Hospital bid receives backing

HEALTH chiefs say the community will be better served if their hospital's bid for foundation status – which received major endorsement from the Government yesterday – is passed.

HEALTH chiefs say the community will be better served if their hospital's bid for foundation status – which received major endorsement from the Government yesterday – is passed.

The public will get a larger say in the running of West Suffolk Hospital if the Independent Regulator agrees that the Bury St Edmunds unit meets all the necessary criteria for the new categorisation.

The hospital passed the first stage of the assessment process yesterday when Health Secretary John Reid gave his support for the trust's application to continue.

Bosses, who presented a five-year business plan to the Department of Health as part of their bid, must now prove the finances of the unit are stable before foundation status is approved later this year.


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"We are pleased that the Secretary of State has endorsed our application to become a foundation trust," said Veronica Worrall, chairman of the West Suffolk Hospital Trust, which maintained its prized three-star rating last week.

"The final decision on whether we become a foundation trust rests with the Office of the Independent Regulator.

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"This will first involve a rigorous inspection and a financial assessment of the trust readiness for the change of legal status. The key challenge will be the trust's ability to demonstrate financial sustainability.

"Listening to and reflecting the views of our members in the way that we deliver care will enable us to make sure services reflect the needs of the communities that we serve."

It is thought the next batch of hospitals to gain foundation trust status will be authorised in November, with a second wave following next February.

Around 20 units across the country have already been awarded the new categorisation, while the West Suffolk was among a further 20 hospitals given the green light in their bid for foundation status by the Health Secretary yesterday.

"I am delighted to support these trusts in their bid to join the 20 NHS foundation trusts established to date by the Independent Regulator," said Mr Reid.

"They have successfully maintained their three-star status throughout the application process.

"This marks another important step on the road to decentralisation, freeing up the NHS from day-to-day Whitehall control and giving local patients more power."

Nearly 9,000 people have expressed an interest in becoming a member of West Suffolk's foundation trust, from which a council will be elected to help oversee the running of the hospital.

Anyone who wishes to register as a member should contact the hospital on 01284 713000 and ask for the foundation trust office.

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