Foundation trust pipeline is not blocked, insists DH

Posted on August 27, 2009. Filed under: Journals | Tags: |

Health Service Journal | By David West | 20 August 2009

The Department of Health has denied claims the foundation trust pipeline is “on hold” despite a significant slowing of authorisations. Last year, there were 25 authorisations between January and August; this year there have been 10. 1206002_Recycling_Station_Fotolia_Credit

Monitor has said it is concerned about the lack of applicants. Its executive chair Bill Moyes this week criticised the government for the slowing transition to an all-foundation system. At the present rate, this would not be complete until 2015, he told the Financial Times. He said reform had slowed when Alan Johnson was health secretary and, although Andy Burnham backed change, he had been focusing on swine flu.

The chief executive of one trust expected to begin the authorisation process this autumn said it was effectively “on hold” because of uncertainty about the impact of the recession. Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals trust acting chief Chris Hurst said trusts needed more certainty about future income to go into the process. It was difficult at present for any trust to know “with complete confidence” that their plans were secure, he said.

More clarity should come in the 2010-11 operating framework this autumn, said Mr Hurst. “Until [the NHS and Monitor] have those parameters… the pipeline is probably on hold for acute trusts.”

NHS East of England strategy director Stephen Dunn said: “We have had a degree of slippage and that is taking people closer to our cut-off deadline of the end of the year [to enter the pipeline]. We expect people to rise to the challenge.”

A Monitor spokeswoman said it understood it was “difficult” to plan at present but the NHS would be able to deal with investment cuts better if more trusts became foundations.

DH spokesman said: “The FT pipeline remains a priority and has not been put on hold. NHS trusts applying to be FTs have a clear framework… [for] their financial plans. The number of applicants has always varied quarter by quarter.”

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