THE chairman of the new Sedgefield Primary Care Trust (PCT) has said he believes the group can provide a quality service to the people of the borough.

The PCT, which will come into being on April 1, will have powers to employ people and own property. Services such as district nurses, health visitors and GP services will be transferred to its control.

The chairman will be Alan Gray, from Newton Aycliffe, who has had 21 years' experience of working with the NHS.

He has been a member of South West Durham Community Health Council, the former South West Durham Health Authority and a non-executive director of Bishop Auckland Hospital Trust.

Mr Gray is a member of Great Aycliffe Town Council and Sedgefield Borough Council, but he stressed the appointment was non-political.

He said the formation of the trust was a "wonderful opportunity".

He said: "The idea is that this gives us the chance to develop services very closely related to the needs of the community. We will serve the community of Sedgefield and we will be in a better position to develop and deliver the services to suit the needs and requirements of the people of Sedgefield.

"I am excited at the prospect of being involved in providing good quality NHS services the people, but this is not about me, or any individual, it is about the NHS, which I'm fully committed to.

"I see part of my role as developing close personal relationships with other agencies - the borough council, county council and voluntary sector - and we will listen very closely to what the people of Sedgefield have to say."