04/01/2005

Five further health trusts make foundation grade

Following approval by the independent regulatory body, five Trusts have been granted Foundation Trust status.

The successful Trusts, Barnsley District General Hospitals NHS Trust; Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Royal Hospitals NHS Trust; Gateshead Health NHS Trust; Harrogate Healthcare NHS Trust; and South Tyneside Healthcare NHS Trust, will bring the number of foundation trusts to 25.

However, the Monitor has deferred consideration of the applications from two Trusts: Southend Hospital NHS Trust and West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust and further decisions on both Trusts may be made at a later date.

Two applicants, Nottingham City Hospitals NHS trust and Burton Hospitals NHS trust, withdrew from the process in order to undertake further preparation and with the intention of re-applying at a later stage.

Health Minister John Hutton, welcoming the next wave of NHS Foundation Trusts, said: "I'm delighted that five more hospitals can enjoy foundation status. Today's announcement marks a further step on the road to decentralisation, freeing up more of the NHS from day-to-day Whitehall control and giving local patients more power to influence local services.

"NHS Foundation Trusts are making clear improvements in quality of care for their patients. The existing 20 NHS Foundation Trusts are already reporting a significant increase in the level of interest, enthusiasm and engagement with their local communities, and are making a real difference in encouraging local innovation in how services are delivered. The new status has in effect given NHS Foundation Trusts the freedom to think differently, and they have been using their new capital and management freedoms to respond much more quickly to the needs of their patients."

He said that Government was committed to "ensuring that all Trusts have the opportunity to gain the freedoms and autonomy of foundation status and are in a position to apply to become NHS Foundation Trusts by 2008".

In July last year, the Secretary of State for Health supported applications from 20 NHS Trusts as part of the first wave, prior to formal applications being submitted to the Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts for authorisation as NHS Foundation Trusts.

A second batch is likely to be authorised, subject to the decision reached by the Monitor, from 1 April 2005.

(SP)

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