HEALTH chiefs and politicians have welcomed boundary changes which affect front-line medical services in the borough.
From October there will only be eight Primary Care Trusts covering the whole of Cheshire and Merseyside, in place of the current 15.
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced that, under changes to PCT boundaries, Ellesmere Port and Neston will join with Cheshire West to form West Cheshire PCT.
Welcoming the news Chris Hannah, chief executive of the Cheshire & Merseyside Strategic Health Authority, said: 'These changes are essential to sustaining the progress we have made in the NHS to improve services.
'They will strengthen the commissioning of health services by putting more control of funding and decision-making with GPs, improving co-ordination between health and social care and increasing management capacity.'
The SHA had recommended to Miss Hewitt that Cheshire has one PCT, not the two she opted for.
But Mr Hannah said: 'It is still a viable option that we have every confidence will deliver improvements to services.'
A spokeswoman for Cheshire West and Ellesmere Port & Neston PCTs said: 'We are committed to making the new arrangements work and are pleased that we will preserve the ability to make locally-sensitive decisions that best meet the needs of the population we serve.'
Borough MP Andrew Miller said: 'I am delighted that my arguments, and those of other colleagues, against a county-wide PCT have been accepted.
'The health economies of Ellesmere Port and Chester are in no way related to those of Macclesfield and Congleton, and the Secretary of State has made the right decision to split the county in two.
'Although there will be separate bodies in Cheshire this doesn't mean there won't be shared management services.
'The Minister has made it quite clear she expects the SHA to consider this option as it may well offer the best solution both practically and economically.
'I welcome this sensible move which will help us plan locally for future healthcare services.'
Under Miss Hewitt's announcement, the number of PCTs across England will be reduced from 303 to 152.