Hospital bids for foundation status

By Lisa CleverdonA PROPOSAL for a hospital to become one of the country's first NHS foundation trusts looks set to hit a wall of opposition from staff.

By Lisa Cleverdon

A PROPOSAL for a hospital to become one of the country's first NHS foundation trusts looks set to hit a wall of opposition from staff.

The West Suffolk Hospitals Trust - which runs the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and the Walnuttree and St Leonard's Hospitals in Sudbury - is eligible to become a Foundation Trust after it was rated as a three-star organisation in the Government's performance ratings last summer.

An official consultation period on the proposal for the trust to apply for foundation status will be launched at Bury St Edmunds Market today.

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But members of the public services union Unison are waging a battle against the proposal and warned of the potential pitfalls of attaining foundation trust status.

Gill Robertson, service group executive for health at Unison in Bury St Edmunds, said: “We are really against the proposals for West Suffolk Hospital and we feel that foundation trusts will just be a backdoor to privatisation.”

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Unison said foundation hospitals would have greater powers than other hospitals, which would lead to increased inequalities within the NHS.

“We have already spoken out on the proposals and I hope we can stop it going ahead, but the trust seems very determined,” said Mrs Robertson.

But West Suffolk Hospitals Trust chairman, Veronica, Worrall said: “This is the most exciting and significant change in the hospital's long and distinguished history.

“For the first time every adult member of the community that we serve will be able to have a direct say in the future of the health services we provide.”

The hospital hoped the public would use the consultation period to have their say on the application.

A spokesman said: “It is essential that everyone feels as though they have had the chance to get involved with the application process and so we are making information as widely available as possible over the next 10 weeks by putting leaflets in hospitals, libraries, doctors surgeries and other public places.”

A number of public meetings will also be held throughout the area during the consultation period, which ends on April 30.

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