Hospital edges closer to independence

IPSWICH Hospital is today one step closer to its goal of gaining more freedom from outside control today. The hospital wants to become a foundation hospital trust which bosses at the Heath Road site say will allow it to control its own destiny.

IPSWICH Hospital is today one step closer to its goal of gaining more freedom from outside control today.

The hospital wants to become a foundation hospital trust which bosses at the Heath Road site say will allow it to control its own destiny.

Hospital chiefs have already had preliminary meetings with the East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA), and that body has now given the green-light to progress with the scheme.

Hospital chief executive Andrew Reed said: "This backing is a huge step forward for us and we are now looking to achieve foundation trust status in April next year, subject to us maintaining the current levels of performance which have impressed the SHA.

"The hospital is applying for foundation trust status because we believe it will help us deliver the best hospital care.

“While we will remain a part of the NHS, we will gain freedom from the government and be able to provide services which meet the specific needs of the people who use our hospital.

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“Decisions on where to invest money will be made locally as patients, staff and members of the public elect people to represent them, and the hospital will be accountable to the local community.

"Patients will benefit from services tailored to meet local needs, the chance to get involved in decision making and access to more information about services allowing them to make informed choices about where to have treatment.

"A foundation trust puts decision-making in the hands of the people it serves, which is where we believe it should be."

Carole Taylor-Brown, chief executive of Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT), said the PCT fully supported the plans to become a foundation hospital and a spokeswoman for the SHA also confirmed that it backed the bid.

Both Suffolk Mental Health Trust and West Suffolk Hospital are also biding to become foundation trusts.

Do you support Ipswich Hospital's plans to become a foundation hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Foundation hospitals

Foundation trusts are NHS trusts which have become independent of government

The first foundation trusts were established in 2004

They are still part of the NHS and subject to NHS standards, performance ratings and inspections

Decisions are made by a board of governors elected by patients, staff and members of the public

The governors are supposed to represent the views of the public and work with the board of directors who remain responsible for day-to-day running of the hospital

Financial freedom allows foundation hospitals to raise money themselves and they can keep surpluses to invest

They have an independent regulator called Monitor

Public sector union Unison is opposed to foundation trusts nationally because it believes they will lead to increased inequalities between NHS services and the extension of charging