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Foundation trusts undermined

first_img Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Foundation trusts underminedOn 7 Oct 2003 in Personnel Today The unions have given the Government a bloody nose over the issue offoundation hospitals with a resounding vote of no confidence in the scheme. So wheredoes that leave the HR profession, which has supported the plans all along?The future of foundation hospitals, acclaimed by HR professionals as the wayforward, is starting to look rocky. Originally, the Government only faced union opposition, but last week theparty faithful at the Labour Party conference rejected its plans. And now, manyare predicting that its likely that Tony Blair faces a possible House ofCommons defeat as well. David Hinchliffe, Labour chairman of the Commons health select committee,claims the proposal could be cut from the Health and Social Care Bill when itreturns to the commons at the end of the month. “I think we can defeat it now,” he said. “And, if I was abetting man, I would say we will.” The policy to build foundation hospitals, which aims to give top-performinghospitals the financial freedom to spend as they see fit, has been criticisedsince the day it was mooted. Opponents fear a two-tier system will develop, with staff being poached fromnon-foundation hospitals, leading to a decline in their quality of service. But HR professionals disagree, saying achieving foundation status will givethem the ability to respond to local needs, and will ultimately improve thestandard of patient care. Mike Griffin, HR director at Kings College Hospital NHS Trust, said he hopesthat foundation hospitals get the go-ahead. “If [the plans for] foundation hospitals fell at this late stage wewould be very disappointed, and would see it as an opportunity lost,” hesaid. Advantages The trust has applied for foundation status, and Griffin believes this isthe way forward. “Being a foundation hospital is of considerable advantage to patientsand users,” he said. “It would strengthen and enhance the quality ofour services.” Griffin said he does not believe trusts with foundation status would poachstaff. NHS HR director Andrew Foster echoes Griffin’s view. In June, Foster toldPersonnel Today that while he could understand concerns that the creation of foundationhospitals might lead to a two-tier health service, the fears were unfounded asevery hospital would eventually be granted foundation status. “This approach is a process intended to raise everybody’sstandards,” he said. “Eventually, foundation trusts will be themodel.” Foster said that while the NHS waited for all trusts to achieve foundationstatus, local employers may be required to co-operate with each other andensure that trusts did not enter into price wars. The Association of Healthcare Human Resource Management (AHHRM) also backsthe scheme, claiming it will provide greater opportunities for HR. Peter King, executive officer at AHHRM, said the organisation is watchingthe situation. “But,” he said, “at the end of the day we arepublic servants, and will do what the Government wants.” He said foundation status offers many advantages, but trusts need to be surethat they have the HR capacity to cope with the changes. However, despite reassurances from health secretary John Reid that the planwas “the greatest peacetime programme of improving the NHS”, unionsare still unhappy about the proposal. In his final conference speech before retiring as general secretary of theTransport and General Workers Union Sir Bill Morris said the plans forfoundation hospitals had been “worked out on the back of anenvelope”, and would lead to “excellence of the few and misery forthe many”. He said successive Tory governments had tried to dismantle the NHS, and thedevelopment of foundation hospitals “would be a self-inflicted wound – agift to a future Tory government to destroy the NHS”. Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, the biggest health workers’union, proposed at the Labour Party conference the motion that the plans shouldbe shelved. He said the reforms were “ill-conceived”, and woulddivide “the best from the rest”. Prentis said he was very pleased with the vote and the fact that so manyconstituencies had supported the union. “All we want to do now is say to the Government that this is yourchance to listen,” he said. “We want to sit down and talk about howto deliver the best possible healthcare for all our people.” The British Medical Association also wants ministers to drop the policy. Itfears that if just a few trusts are given foundation status in the first waveof implementation, they will receive preferential treatment, and inequalitiesin the health service will increase. By Quentin ReadeKey developmentsUnder the foundation scheme hospitals plan:– The hospitals will remain NHS hospitals – Health secretary Alan Milburn claims patients will get bettercare as the freedom from day-to-day Whitehall control will encourage moreinnovation in service delivery – Local people and staff will, for the first time, be able toelect hospital governors – Making foundation trusts more locally accountable willparticularly help to improve services in poorer areasThe 29 NHS trusts which haveapplied for foundation trust status are:Addenbrooke’sAintree HospitalsBasildon and Thurrock General HospitalsBradford HospitalsCalderdale & HuddersfieldCity Hospital SunderlandCountess of ChesterDoncaster and Bassetlaw  HospitalsEssex Rivers HealthcareGloucestershire HospitalsGuy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Homerton University Hospital King’s College HospitalMoorfields Eye HospitalNorth Tees and Hartlepool Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre Papworth HospitalPeterborough Hospitals Rotherham General Hospital Royal Devon and Exeter  Healthcare Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Southern Derbyshire Acute  HospitalServices Stockport Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals The Royal Marsden The Queen Victoria Hospital University Hospital Birmingham University College London  Hospitals Walsall Hospitals Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

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