First wave of hospitals apply for foundation trust status

The government has revealed that 32 three-star NHS Trusts have completed the first stage of the application process to become NHS Foundation Trusts.

A total of 38 NHS Trusts awarded the maximum three stars in this year's ratings were invited to apply for NHS Foundation Trust status in July as part of the next wave – and 32 have now formally applied.

Twenty-five NHS Trusts are in the first tranche and are currently in the process of consulting with their local communities before reaching the final stage of the application process in December 2003.

The second round of Trusts was announced by Lord Warner at the start of the committee stage in the House of Lords of the Health and Social Care Bill.

Lord Warner said: "We are now working with over 50 NHS Trusts moving towards NHS Foundation Trust status and this clearly demonstrates a growing commitment to, and enthusiasm for, NHS Foundation Trusts across the NHS.

"If all these were successful, it is likely that over 25% of the population in England would have access to NHS Foundation Trusts by the end of 2004.

"NHS Foundation Trusts will be firmly part of the NHS but will be locally accountable, free from Whitehall control and as a result better able to deliver responsive services to the communities they serve."

Elsewhere, Unison, the UK’s largest health union has warned the Tories that they were on a “passport to nowhere” with their plans to introduce patient passports.

Earlier this week, at the Tory conference in Blackpool, plans were unveiled whereby NHS patients could receive operations privately and have 60% of the bill paid for. The party believe this will cut waiting lists.

Karen Jennings, Unison Head of Health, said: “The Tories and Liam Fox are on a passport to nowhere with their latest scheme for patient passports. I am sure that the British electorate will see through their privatisation bid and refuse them a visa at the next election.

“Liam Fox's’ latest plan would rob the NHS of much-needed funding and hand it over to the likes of BUPA and other private healthcare profiteers. The rich would take their money elsewhere and the NHS would be left to care for patients needing the most costly treatments. The result would be that the NHS would slowly become a second rate provider. You have only to look at America to see the kind of two-tier system that these passports would create.”


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