Published: 18/04/2002, Volume II2, No. 5801 Page 8

An even greater shift of resources to the frontline is on the agenda, health secretary Alan Milburn pledged this week.

Speaking at the NHS Leadership Centre's annual clinical leaders' conference in London, he said: 'It will take time to complete the transformation but the direction is set.Power and resources will now move into the hands of frontline services and frontline staff.'And with threequarters of the NHS budget set to be devolved to primary care trusts within two years, Mr Milburn added: 'Let me make one thing clear today:75 per cent represents the starting point, not the finishing line in decentralisation and devolution in the NHS.'Strong local clinical leaders were the 'essential ingredient' in modernising services, he said.Acknowledging the pressure on frontline staff, he said the government would look at 'how we can give staff more protected time to improve services'.But a speaker from the floor won applause when she called on Mr Milburn to slow down the pace of reform.