Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Medical Staff Fear `Predators'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Medical Staff Fear `Predators'

Article excerpt

Health workers in the North last night warned that hospital managers could abuse foundation hospital status because their new powers were so poorly defined.

Newcastle Hospitals, City Hospitals Sunderland and North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals have all passed the first application stage and are set to go through to the final round in the autumn if they retain their three-star status this month.

The Government says foundation status will bring new freedoms to the best-run trusts to opt out of Whitehall control, including new powers to borrow money.

But representatives of the region's health workers are still unclear what the plans will mean in practice.

They fear managers may exploit lack of clarity in the Health and Social Care Bill to the advantage of their own trusts and create inequality in the North's health service.

Regional chairman of the British Medical Association Dr George Rae said: "We don't know enough about foundation trusts even at this late stage in the parliamentary process.

"We are not confident that there is enough detail in the proposals to stop predatory managers using foundation status for the interests of their own trusts and the detriment of others.

"What we do know about foundation status worries us. Specifically, we believe they will create inequality, competition and staffing problems."

Health workers also accused the Government of creating confusion with yesterday's amendments to the Bill which sought to limit the "independence" of foundation trusts by strengthening the role of the new regulatory body and announcing stricter audit control. Regional director of the Royal College of Nursing Glen Turp said: "We are concerned about foundation trusts. The proposals are complex and unclear - they raise lots of questions and answer none.

"We want more information about the greater share of power for the public. …

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