Sunderland health authority is today likely to ignore the results of ballots of local GPs and other NHS staff and recommend to health secretary Alan Milburn that a citywide primary care trust should go ahead.

The HA is expected to endorse a proposal to Mr Milburn at a special HA meeting, that there should be only one PCT in the city from April 2002. This is despite support for an alternative proposal for Sunderland North primary care group to become an independent PCT. The city currently has one PCT, Sunderland West, and two PCGs, Sunderland South and Sunderland North. Sunderland North PCG had opposed the proposal to merge.

A recent ballot showed that 51.3 per cent of GPs across the city were in favour of Sunderland North moving to become a PCT, with 75 per cent of GPs within Sunderland North PCG voting for the option.

Another ballot showed that 72 per cent of practice managers city-wide were in favour of Sunderland North moving to PCT status.

Sunderland North PCG also says local community nurses, including their management team, supported the scheme, as well as 79 per cent of local practice nurses and the Sunderland-wide local pharmaceutical committee.

PCG chair and local GP Dr Roger Ford said: 'These are the people who should, along with representatives from the community, be taking the decisions that shape our healthcare.'

However, the HA has decided not to change its initial recommendation for one PCT, which was made at its January board meeting, before the consultation exercise.