Foundation trust opt-out plans knockered by report

Plans to allow NHS hospitals to opt out of government control by becoming
foundation trusts, have come under fire in a report by an independent
think-tank.

The report by Catalyst argues that the reforms will lead to a two-tier
health service, with foundation status hospitals attracting a disproportionate
allocation of investment, resources and trained staff.

Martin McIvor, director of Catalyst, said: "I think the foundation
trusts are part of a wider problem, which is the notion of having more-favoured
and less-favoured health providers."

He is concerned that although foundation trusts will have to adhere to the
Agenda for Change pay structure, they will be able to offer increased rewards
for staff compared to standard NHS trusts through bonus payments.

The report also claims that foundation trust patients, staff and visitors
will face increased costs as foundation trusts put assets such as car parks and
retail property to commercial use.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison is also opposed to foundation
trusts.

"Foundation trusts will lead to increased privatisation, higher costs
and damaging competition in the NHS," he said.

However, NHS HR body, the Association of Healthcare Human Resource
Management, has voiced its support for foundation trust status, and more than
30 NHS trusts have already applied to opt out of government control.

Norma French, HR director at the Royal Marsden NHS Hospital Trust, which has
applied to become a foundation trust, believes the new status will help drive
up healthcare standards.

"It will give us greater flexibility over our finances and staffing
arrangements," she said.

By Ben Willmott

www.catalystforum.org.uk

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