Headlines: January 9th, 2003

The NHS Confederation is calling for the strength of relationships between hospitals and their Primary Care Trusts to be used as a test of hospitals seeking Foundation status.The idea comes as the Confederation submits written evidence to the Health Select Committee’s inquiry into Foundation Trusts. It welcomes moves towards local ownership that the Government is trying to encourage through Foundation Trusts. But the Confederation is warning that Foundations will deliver more patient-centred care only if the proposals are accompanied by an equivalent investment and strengthening of Primary Care Trusts.

The Confederation’s Policy Director, Nigel Edwards, said the majority of healthcare was delivered across organisational boundaries, and hospitals needed increasingly to work as part of these wider networks.

“Strong relationships between individual hospitals and their PCTs must therefore be a key test for those wanting to be Foundation Trusts. Further attention needs to be paid to strengthening PCTs to ensure they are in the driving seat in delivering more integrated care for local communities,” he said.

The Confederation’s evidence to the Select Committee also underlines the need for further work to ensure that the new governance arrangements deliver real local ownership, and for more details about the additional pay freedoms that will be made available. It also argues that greater freedom for a minority of Foundation Trusts must not get in the way of the wider programme of reform for all NHS organisations.