New plans give GPs budget control
The Government said a patient-centred NHS was a "step closer to reality" on Wednesday as it published its plans for a radical overhaul of the health service.
The Health and Social Care Bill will see all 152 of England's primary care trusts (PCTs) scrapped alongside 10 strategic health authorities, leading to the predicted loss of 24,500 jobs.
Almost 21,000 of these losses will be through redundancy while the rest involve people leaving the service or retiring.
GPs will be given around 80 per cent of the NHS budget - currently topping £100 billion a year - to commission services for patients.
A new NHS commissioning board will oversee this process and new "health and wellbeing" boards are being created.
But the plans have come under fierce attack from health unions and doctors' leaders worried that the reforms are "too much too soon".
The cost of implementing the changes is £1.4 billion but Health Secretary Andrew Lansley insists they will save the NHS more than £5 billion by 2014/15 and £1.7 billion every year thereafter.
Mr Lansley said: "Modernising the NHS is a necessity, not an option - in order to meet rising need in the future we need to make changes.
"We need to take steps to improve health outcomes, bringing them up to the standards of the best international healthcare systems, and to bring down the NHS money spent on drugs.
"This legislation will deliver changes that will improve outcomes for patients and save the NHS £1.7 billion every year - money that will be reinvested into services for patients."
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