Politics: Dobson's pounds 5.3m health windfall

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The Independent Online
ELEVEN deprived areas are to share a windfall of pounds 5.3m to pioneer ways of tackling health problems, Frank Dobson, Secretary of State for Health, announced yesterday, writes Jeremy Laurance.

The health action zones, which include inner city and rural areas covering a population of six million, will experiment with new services for diabetes, heart disease, cervical screening and child health and will aim to break down barriers between health and social services.

Plans to establish the zones were announced last June after Mr Dobson complained of the "Berlin walls" which divided doctors, social workers and voluntary groups, which meant care was moulded to the needs of institutions rather than individuals.

The zones, which include Bradford, Luton, and the east-London boroughs of Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets, were selected from 41 areas, covering 49 of the 100 health authorities in England, which applied for the extra cash. They are seen by ministers as a way to "blaze the trail" for NHS modernisation.

The pounds 5.3m allocated for this year, pounds 1m more than expected, will be followed by pounds 30m next year when a second wave of zones will be selected. Each zone will be funded for seven years.