NEWS

Calderdale and Kirklees health authority has recommended the formation of a single primary care trust for Huddersfield in the face of strong opposition from mainly rural South Huddersfield primary care group.

Local people and the board of South Huddersfield PCG will lobby health secretary Alan Milburn while they await his decision on the recommendation.

A GP ballot for the two PCGs saw 51 per cent in favour of two PCTs and 49 per cent against, with 89 per cent in South Huddersfield PCG favouring two bodies and the majority in the city-based Huddersfield Central PCG supporting a single organisation. Patient groups voted 10 to one to retain both separately.

Dr Yusuf Shamsee, board member and prescribing lead in Huddersfield South, believes GPs will become disillusioned if the recommendation is approved. He said: 'The two populations have very diverse needs and are two very different communities in terms of rural/urban split and ethnicity. This decision makes a nonsense of local ownerships and patient empowerment.'

The HA argues that a single organisation will benefit staff recruitment and retention and will allow economies of scale, as well as being flexible enough to deal with diverse local needs.

Chief executive Judith Young said: 'We recognise how important it is for NHS organisations to be local and heavily involved with their communities. Therefore we made a strong recommendation to the secretary of state that a single PCT in Huddersfield should be structured in a way that helps to develop closer contact with all the communities it serves and the organisations it works with.'

But Dr Shamsee insisted that local people 'feel betrayed'.