The Independent London Newspaper

 

Hospital set-up must change or we will be vulnerable to a takeover

Published: 25 November, 2011

• AT the beginning of November we launched a public consultation to become a foundation trust by April 2013 (Hospital at risk of privatisation under this new set-up, November 18).

Becoming a foundation trust will mean we will be more accountable to our community.

We will gain more freedom in deciding how to spend funds to address patient needs locally.

We will be working closely with local GPs to plan and deliver the services that local people need.

Our discussions with GPs, local government and other local partners show that they understand and support these benefits.

We will still remain firmly part of the NHS.

Rather than having a negative effect on acute and community care, becoming a foundation trust will, in fact, have many benefits for our patients, staff and our community.

As a foundation trust, Whittington Health will be overseen by a council of governors made up of elected and appointed members drawn from the community,

If our application is successful, this will not lead to privatisation of the Whittington as NHS foundation trusts are part of the NHS, provide care on the basis of need, free at the point of use, are governed by local people, are not run for profit, have greater freedoms and flexibility in the way they are managed, and are regularly inspected.

Foundation trusts were created by the previous government.

The need for all healthcare organisations to achieve this status was confirmed by the present Coalition government.

All hospitals have been told clearly that they have no choice.

More than 60 per cent of hospitals in the country are already foundation trusts.

So Whittington Health has no alternative.

Indeed, it would be dangerous and irresponsible if the trust’s management attempted to pursue any other course of action.

If we don’t become a foundation trust by the deadline we will be far more vulnerable to take-over by other health trusts.

This would be likely to lead to loss of autonomy and control over our own destiny.

Local people would also be losers.

The support for the hospital from the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition in previous years has been valuable.

We ask for their support again.

We ask them to become members of the Whittington Hospital Trust and ensure their views and ideas influence our plans positively.

JOE LIDDANE
Chairman, Whittington Health
Yi Mien Koh
Chief executive,
Whittington Health

• THE chief executive and chair of governors at Whittington Hospital attempt to persuade us that becoming a foundation trust is in our interests.

It is not.

This is not a true public consultation.

It is very hard to find the consultation forms at the hospital.

They are on the internet, but 24 pages are expensive to print off.

The consultation form only gives what they assert are the benefits of becoming a trust and does not address the problems.

They suggest that this is not about privatisation.

It is.

While the NHS will continue to fund patient care, the organisation is separate from the NHS.

There is no guarantee it will not be taken over by a private company.

The commissioning bodies will be private companies.

Further, the consultation document tells us they will have access to alternative funds, in addition to NHS money.

What do they mean by that?

There is a risk that health services now within hospital management could be closed because the current regulations state that foundation trusts can only deliver services that make a surplus, and should close down any that make a loss. 

The chief executive has already said that people may have to pay for non-emergency procedures.

The limit on private patient care will be lifted. With the cuts in health provision, private patients will be a more attractive option for foundation trusts, with the consequence of less provision for NHS-funded patients.

NHS staff will suffer because the Whittington will be outside NHS agreements for staff terms and conditions. Pressure on pay, falling training standards and rising workloads are all likely.

Staff shortages and falling morale will surely follow.

Becoming a foundation trust could be a back door to privatisation.

Private health care organisations are already taking over hospitals.

Foundation trust status will leave the door wide open to the Whittington being taken over by a private organisation, which will put profit before health needs.

SHIRLEY FRANKLIN
Chair, Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition
www.dwhc.org.uk

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