A London primary care trust has appointed the local social services director as its chief executive in a move that will mean that both health and social care are run as a 'combined operation' by the same manager.

Julia Ross will combine her existing role as social services director with the borough of Barking and Dagenham with that of head of the new PCT, which shares its boundaries, on 1 April.

The appointment is subject to ministerial approval, but there are already suggestions that other trusts will seek to follow Barking and Dagenham's example.

Ms Ross, who has a background in nursing and social work, said:

'This model makes it easier to focus on people's needs rather than service boundaries. '

The move made 'perfect sense for GPs and primary care teams, social workers and nurses' as well as service users, she added.

Barking and Havering health authority joint chief executives Sue Osborn and Susan Williams welcomed the appointment. The establishment of the PCT would 'build on the strong links' between the HA and the local authority, they said.

The PCT will be chaired by Barking and Dagenham councillor Ray Parkin.