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Foundation status offered to 38 more trusts

Published on 31/10/03 at 11:31am

A further 38 hospital have been invited to apply for foundation trust status after winning three stars in the recent NHS performance ratings.

The announcement, made by the Prime Minister, underlines the Government's determination to press ahead with plans to offer greater autonomy to top performing trusts, despite sustained resistance from its own MPs.

Health Minister John Hutton wrote to chief executives at all the new three star acute trusts, encouraging them to apply in the second wave of applications this Autumn.

Mr Hutton said "I have little doubt that many of these Trusts will see their 3 star status as something to build upon and will clearly want to consider whether NHS Foundation Trusts status is right for them".

"As with the first wave, each preliminary application for NHS Foundation status will need to provide clear evidence of the NHS Trust's current and recent past performance and working practices across the range of national priority areas".

Successful applicants will then be asked to submit a more detailed application, probably in early 2004 and could become foundation trusts between autumn 2004 and spring 2005, dependent on how quickly legislation is passed.

Dr Beverly Malone, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing responded to the news by restating her reservations about foundation trusts, saying: "We think it would be premature to push ahead with the further extension of foundation trusts".

"The concerns of the health community have not been adequately addressed and an immediate roll out of all three-star rated trusts would not allow time for proper evaluation or bedding in of the new structure".

The majority of acute trust managers have welcomed the opportunity for greater autonomy, but there are signs that some hospitals may turn down the opportunity.

East Cheshire NHS Trust, the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases and Frimley Park Hospital were three trusts included in the group of 32 top-rated trusts invited to take part in the first wave of applications, but decided to defer until October 2004.

While the DoH's official reason is that the hospitals want to "better placed to make a success of the new model", the trusts may have been influenced by growing doubts about the benefits of foundation status.

Independent healthcare analysts the King's Fund now say measures designed to guard against imprudent financial management could tie the hands of organisations intended to be freed from central control.

David Jackson, Chief Executive of Bradford Hospital NHS Trust which is in the first wave of applicants told the Commons Health Select Committee that if greater freedom might never materialise "many of us will say it is perhaps not an idea with is worth pursuing".

Meanwhile, four hospitals awarded three stars last year and invited to apply for foundation status have this year been downgraded to two star trusts, and are no longer eligible to apply.

Chief executive of Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust Mike Pollard told the BBC: "Losing a star is a big disappointment. I feel particularly sorry for our staff who have worked so hard to cope with rising demand and continuing cost pressures."

Mr Pollard said the Trust was undeterred, and would look to be in the second wave in October 2004.

The 38 new three star acute trusts

  • Airedale NHS Trust
  • Barnsley District General Hospital NHS Trust
  • Birmingham Heartlands and Solihull (Teaching) NHS Trust
  • Birmingham Women Health Care NHS Trust
  • Burton Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare Trust
  • Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Royal Hospital NHS Trust
  • Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology NHS Trust
  • East Somerset NHS Trust
  • Gateshead Health NHS Trust
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust
  • Harrogate Health Care NHS Trust
  • James Paget Healthcare Trust
  • Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Liverpool Women Hospital NHS Trust
  • Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS Trust
  • Mid Staffordshire General Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Morecambe Bay Hospital NHS Trust
  • North Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Nottingham City Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Royal Liverpool ChildrenNHS Trust
  • Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust
  • South Devon Health Care NHS Trust
  • South Tyneside Health Care NHS Trust
  • Southampton University Hospitals Trust
  • Southend Hospital NHS Trust
  • St Mary NHS Trust
  • Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust
  • The Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust
  • West Dorset General Hospitals NHS Trust
  • West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust
  • York Health Services NHS Trust

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