Public health is handed back to local government

ON April 1, we will see the biggest changes to the NHS and public involvement since 1948.

This month the Wiltshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) is abolished and the Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group, run by GPs, takes over.

Public health, which has been run by the PCT since 1974, will go back to local government where it was before.

The Wiltshire Involvement Network (WIN), the statuary body set up by Act of Parliament in 2007, will also be abolished and a new statuary body, Healthwatch, takes over.

WIN has been successful during its existence in engaging with the public and patients. We have held many public events over the years including the Social Care Act, end of life care, care in the community, help to live at home, sensory impairment, and first responders to name just a few.

The bi-monthly core group meetings have been held in public so that representatives from the NHS, hospitals and Wiltshire Council could be questioned by the public and the feedback we had from the public was always very encouraging.

As I live in south Wiltshire, I have personally been involved with Salisbury Hospital, attending board meetings, sitting on the food forum committee and taking part in ward inspections.

While sometimes things go wrong as reported recently, Salisbury Hospital is one of the best in the country in my opinion.

The chairman of the new Healthwatch is Christine Graves and I wish her all the very best in taking this on and I would like to thank everyone who has supported me over the years as chairman of the Wiltshire Involvement Network.

It has been a privilege to serve the public and patients in Wiltshire and I look forward with great interest to seeing how all these new changes work out.

PHIL MATTHEWS, chairman of WIN Wilton

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