Boost for community hospital bid

IPSWICH Hospital's bid to become a community-run hospital away from government control has been brought forward thanks to its financial turnaround.The hospital was due to be one of the last health trusts in the country to become a foundation trust because of its one time £24million debt.

IPSWICH Hospital's bid to become a community-run hospital away from government control has been brought forward thanks to its financial turnaround.

The hospital was due to be one of the last health trusts in the country to become a foundation trust because of its one time £24.1million of debt.

But last year the trust made £1m and lifted itself off of the Department of Health's blacklist, allowing it to process its foundation trust application sooner.

Andrew MacPherson, chairman of the foundation trust steering board, said: “All NHS trusts nationally undertook a foundation trust diagnostic exercise to assess their preparedness for foundation trust status. Our foundation trust diagnostic was completed in June last year and indicated that it would take more than two years to achieve foundation status.

“This finding was largely predicated on our financial position, and places us in the last wave of foundation trusts to be licensed, in December 2008.

“Since then the trust has undertaken an aggressive financial recovery plan.

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“At a meeting of the strategic health authority it was agreed that the trust had made very significant improvements across the board, and that they would support an application being brought forward.”

Hospital chief executive Andrew Reed said: “To me, the opportunity is very much about linking into the community and making Ipswich Hospital the hospital for the east Suffolk community, driven by what the population needs.

“The organisation could and should be very different to what we are now.”

The hospital now aims to get foundation trust status in October next year.

Foundation trusts are accountable to the populations they serve rather than the government. They still have to meet nationally-set standards but, because they are overseen by people from the area, who can join as members and stand as governors, they are free to develop services driven by the area's needs.

The Suffolk Mental Health Partnership is currently in the process of a public consultation and wants to gain foundation trust status at the end of this year.

N How would you like to see the hospital change when it becomes a foundation trust? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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