Increased NHS freedom given cautious welcome

The Government’s proposals to free successful hospitals from Whitehall
control and give charities and the private sector the chance to take over those
that fail have been backed by HR professionals.

Health Secretary Alan Milburn outlined plans last week to give NHS trusts
the power to make their own management and financial decisions with minimal
government intervention.

Hospitals that consistently under-perform will have their management
franchised – meaning they could be run by charities, the private or the public

The Government has also proposed that its role in running the NHS be reduced
so that day-to-day management is passed to local strategic health authorities.

Association of Healthcare Human Resource Management secretary John Adsett
thinks giving trusts more autonomy over their own affairs, particularly with
regards to spending, will be beneficial for the NHS.

"I give the proposals a cautious welcome, but it will be interesting to
look at the fine print," he said.

"I think giving staff and management more control and reducing the role
of Whitehall is a positive proposal."

Adsett also supports the idea of successful trusts being able to franchise
under-performing trusts or put in a management team.

He added:"Our trust (Basildon and Thurrock General Hospitals NHS Trust)
is an example of this to some extent.

"Our chief executive is also in charge of Dartford and Gravesham NHS
Trust and we provide management assistance in some areas. It is also a mutual
learning exercise because we can benefit from areas where they are

Milburn said the reforms would reduce central bureaucracy and increase scope
for local innovation. But he stressed that Whitehall would continue to set
strategic direction and standards and be accountable.

By Ben Willmott

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