Public Sector: Manchester SHA conveys reforms

The Greater Manchester Strategic Health Authority is planning to communicate radical changes to child and family services.

The shake-up of the Children, Young People and Families' Network will see the closure of at least seven of the area's 13 neo-natal, maternity and in-patient units.

However, the council is highlighting an increase in community nursing and the opening of a children's hospital in 2009.

'The system has not changed in 50 years but care has changed massively.

This is about improving services, not cutting costs,' insisted communications manager Jeanette Livings.

The authority is distributing pamphlets to places such as surgeries, hospitals and libraries, inviting feedback from the public.

In November it will begin a six-month consultation programme handled by retained agency Unique Creative Concerns. Offering four 'models of care' for the public to choose from, residents will be asked for feedback via local media and a series of roadshows.

The authority will also use radio and bus advertising to raise awareness of the consultation programme and the proposed changes.

A video has been commissioned and a website set up to enable people to register their views online.

'People are used to having their own local hospital but change is necessary,' said Livings. She claimed that the European Time Directive has resulted in a shortage of medical staff, forcing the authority to amalgamate some services.

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