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From April 1996, 100 new health authorities will deliver better quality health care to local communities in England and offer savings approaching £150m a year for the benefit of patients, health minister Gerald Malone has said.

Mr Malone announced the boundaries of the new single health authorities which will replace the existing structure of 105 District Health Authorities (DHAs) and 90 Family Health Services Authorities (FHSAs).

The creation of the new authorities follows the enactment of the Health Authorities Act 1995 - abolishing DHAs and FHSAs and creating a single new health authority with responsibilities across the whole spectrum of health care for each local area - and a three month consultation period which finished in October.

By combining the roles and skills of the existing authorities, the function of the new health authorities will be strengthened and will better enable them to:

- develop health strategy in collaboration with local authorities, GPs, hospitals, community health services and most importantly, local people

- promote the involvement of GPs in purchasing by developing an increasingly primary care led NHS

- ensure more effective use of resources - for instance through pooling skills, more efficient administration and other management savings

- provide a focus for all local public health responsibility, ensuring that local authorities, GPs and all those providing care have access to and are supported in their use of appropriate public health advice.

Commenting on the formation of the new authorities, Mr Malone said:

'The new health authorities will have an essential role in promoting better health and securing the provision of comprehensive health services for local people in their areas.

'The creation of the new health authorities will mean a better service for patients and will enable the NHS to build on the effective joint working achieved to date.

'It is right to cut out unnecessary layers of bureaucracy where they occur and ensure that expenditure is effectively directed towards patients and their needs.'

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