Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Old News Reheated in Attempt to Change the Agenda

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Old News Reheated in Attempt to Change the Agenda

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY

IT WAS supposed to be the big announcement to knock David Kelly off the front pages.

But Tony Blair's bold-sounding plan to expand foundation hospitals turned out to have been unveiled at least four times before.

That left critics accusing Downing Street of resorting to spin to bury bad news.

In a move trumpeted in advance by No10, the Prime Minister used today's press conference to invite another 38 hospitals to apply for foundation status. It was described as " provocative" because it risked a row with Labour Left-wingers and unions.

In the small print, however, it became clear the 38 would only be included in the scheme "by the next election" - exactly in line with previous announcements.

On 3 July, Mr Blair said every hospital would get the chance, adding: "So we decided therefore to do it in waves of hospitals becoming foundation hospitals."

Far from provoking Labour rebels, the promise was "spun" as a way of calming fears about a two-tier NHS. …

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