A HEALTH chief has paid tribute to NHS watchdogs who will be silenced this month.

Mr Gordon McLean, chairman of the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, thanked the Huddersfield and Calderdale community health councils for their work over the years and described it as the "passing of an era".

The Government is closing down the organisations at the end of the month.

Mr McLean told a hospital board meeting in Halifax: "They have been a good team and have done a good job at both ends of the trust in Huddersfield and Calderdale.

"We have had very effective CHCs. They have been good organisations to work with and they have served the patients well."

Mr McLean thanked Cherry Hunter, chief officer of Huddersfield CHC.

"For a good long time she has battled on right to the end.

"Cherry has done a grand job and an enthusiastic job for the CHC."

Mr McLean added: "We shall have to see what alternative organisations do in place of the CHCs. `'

* Mrs Diane Whittingham, the trust's chief executive, said amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill, which will lead to the formation of foundation hospital trusts, meant that the new foundation trusts, would now have a patients' forum in place.

The forums will act as hospital watchdogs.

Under the original proposals, hospitals run by a foundation trust would not be obliged to have a patients' forum.


Where to turn after the CHC

HUDDERSFIELD Community Health Council closes its doors on Thursday.

Its work and services are being shared among a number of organisations.

The monitoring of local services will be taken up by the Commission for Involving Patients and Public in Healthcare.

Patient forums will be set up to look into the work of hospitals and GPs. To join the forum ring 0113 227 2400.

Public views on service changes to hospitals will be conducted by Kirklees Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Contact: 01484 221908.

Minor complaints about hospitals or GPs will be investigated by the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALs).

For hospitals, contact PALs, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, on 01484 342128 or PALs South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust on 01484 343207.

For serious complaints about medical treatment and negligence, contact the Independent Advocacy Service, hosted by the Citizens Advice Bureau, on 0845 120 3734.

For GPs and dentists, contact PALs, South and Central Huddersfield Primary Care Trusts, on 01484 466026.

MPs can also be contacted: Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, 01924 495277, Colne Valley MP Kali Mountford, 01484 840100 or Wakefield MP David Hinchliffe, 01924 290590.