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Government compromise expected on NHS changes

(First Edition)

FURTHER changes to the NHS will be thrashed out at a meeting between the Prime Minister and Virginia Bottomley the Secretary of State for Health, at Downing Street today, writes Colin Brown.

Mrs Bottomley is resisting pressure within the Government to abolish the 14 regional health authorities in England, but she is keen to preserve an interim tier to prevent ministers becoming embroiled in the day-to-day decisions in running hospitals. John Major is anxious to ensure that the trust status hospitals, which cover 95 per cent of patients, and have opted out of local health authority control, have the freedom to manage.

Ministers expect a compromise in which the regions will be streamlined, with a new remit to maintain an arm's-length approach to the hospitals, and a monitoring role.