PLANS to merge the management of Huddersfield's family doctors with other parts of Kirklees have been unveiled today.

Major changes in the way primary care is organised throughout West Yorkshire are being put forward by NHS bosses in a bid to free-up more than £13m in management costs.

The proposals - by the West Yorkshire Strategic Health Authority - will see Huddersfield's two GP-led primary care trusts merge with the North Kirklees PCT.

The trusts "pay" for the treatment of their patients in hospital and for prescription drugs. Nationally the trusts received 75% of the NHS budget.

They also organise the provision of family doctors, dentists, pharmacists, opticians and other primary care practitioners within their boundaries.

They were set up in only 2002 to focus on small areas Huddersfield's two trusts, Central and South Huddersfield, bitterly fought over proposed merger plans soon after their inception.They were collectively in debt to the tune of £7m in October this year.

Now the health authority plans to reduce the overall number of primary care trusts in the region from 15 to only five.

Three strategic health authorities across Yorkshire and the Humber will also be merged to form only one.

Mike Farrar, chief executive of West Yorkshire Strategic Health Authority, said:

He said: "This is an opportunity to make sure that the NHS in West Yorkshire is in the best possible position at a local level to enable it to provide a patient-led NHS.

"There have already been a significant number of improvements in the NHS in West Yorkshire which have included quicker treatment for local people and many treatments traditionally provided in hospitals being provided in clinics or surgeries closer to the patient's home."

A 14-week public consultation period has now been launched. People can offer their comments by visiting or calling the consultation line on 0845 120 3152. Public meetings will also be held from 6pm to 8pm at Huddersfield Town Hall on January 17 and Holmfirth Civic Hall on January 26.