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New chapter for West Mercia Cluster of Primary Care Trusts

Single Cluster Board to meet in public

Tomorrow, Tuesday January 17, will mark the first meeting of the West Mercia Cluster single Board.

NHS Herefordshire, Shropshire County PCT, NHS Telford and Wrekin and NHS Worcestershire were formally grouped together in April 2011. Following national guidance, PCT clusters have been asked to formally establish a single Board that would act not only for the cluster but also for each individual PCT.  Tomorrow will see the first meeting of the new formal West Mercia Cluster Board.

Already the four PCTs have benefitted from sharing best practice. It is hoped that by having a single Board for the cluster and individual Boards, it will give the PCTs greater resilience during the next 12 months of changes within the NHS.
The new single board is led by the Chairman of the West Mercia Cluster, Joanna Newton, who was appointed to the post today, Monday, January 16. Joanna was the former chairman of NHS Herefordshire and has a wide experience of the private, public and voluntary sector. Through her other chairmanship roles - including Hereford & Worcester Ambulance Trust, the West Midlands/central Wales cross border group on health & social care and the West Midlands Specialised Commissioning Board - Joanna has built up a wealth of health and social care knowledge from across the West Mercia region.
The Cluster Board and Executive Team are committed to keeping a focus on each locality, and as such the board is made up of the former chairs and a non- executive director from each PCT, as well as officers who have an in depth knowledge of their local area.

In keeping with this locality focus, board meetings will be rotated across the cluster and will be scheduled to fit in with key local agenda items, wherever appropriate.

In a first for the PCTs, tomorrow’s board meeting will be streamed live on the web, enabling local residents from across the whole West Mercia region to see the new board and keep up to date with the latest policy decisions. 

Joanna Newton, Chairman of the West Mercia Cluster, said: “This week marks a new chapter for our PCTs. I would like to reassure people that although we have moved to a single board to cover the West Mercia area from an operational perspective, both officers and Non-Executive Directors have been working hard, to ensure that the board represents the local areas it serves and is committed to keeping a local focus. Our board consists of representatives from each of the PCTs, who have the knowledge and experience of the needs of their local populations.

“I am also delighted to announce the appointment of our Non-Executive Directors:

Dr Helen Herritty
Andrew Mason
Dr Bryan Smith
William Hutton
Louise Lomax
Susan Mead
Rob Parker

I also welcome the new and innovative methods we are introducing to keep our local communities informed. By aiming to make our board meetings available online, we can increase the transparency and accountability of health decisions like never before. As always, we welcome people to attend our board meetings and follow what is happening in their local NHS.”

Chris Bull, Herefordshire Council chief executive, said “Herefordshire public services are well placed to embrace these changes within the NHS. The partnership between the local authority and health services within the county is well established and we expect it to continue to develop through this period of change. Herefordshire Council and Herefordshire Healthcare Commissioners are already working in partnership to ensure that public services for Herefordshire citizens continue to meet local expectations.”

Eamonn Kelly, chief executive of the West Mercia Cluster, said: “This week’s meeting with the new board will help provide the stability and necessary governance to support the individual PCTs and the new Clinical Commissioning Groups. By setting up this single Board, it will give the commissioning groups more freedom to make local decisions, based on their local knowledge.”

Members of the public are welcome to attend the first board meeting at 10am on Tuesday, 17 January, in the council chamber at Worcestershire County Council in Worcester.

To view the Board papers or to see the Board meeting online visit ):