First ten foundation hospitals approved

The government has named the first ten hospital trusts to be granted foundation status.

The list, published by the Department of Health, names Basildon and Thurrock; Bradford Teaching Hospitals; Countess of Chester; Doncaster and Bassetlaw; Homerton University; Moorfields Eye Hospital; Peterborough & Stamford; Stockport; Royal Devon and Exeter; and Royal Marsden.

Announcing the decision, health secretary John Reid said: “These first NHS Foundation Trusts will be able to respond more quickly and directly to the needs of NHS patients and for the first time will give local people a say in how their local hospital is run. NHS Foundations Trusts will continue to be fully part of the NHS and treat patients free at the point of need.”

Bill Moyes, the independent regulator for foundation hospitals, added: “Becoming a foundation trust offers managers, staff, patients and the local population the opportunity to decide for themselves how their trust should meet local needs.”

The plans for foundation hospitals caused a row in the House of Commons and many MPs from both sides of the House remain firmly opposed to the scheme.

Beverly Malone, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said it would closely monitor the hospitals to see how they dealt with their new financial freedoms and Karen Jennings, head of health at Unison, said the union still had “severe reservations” about foundation hospitals.

The approved hospitals assume their new status today. They become new legal entities and will be free to organise their services to reflect local needs and borrow money to finance projects. However, foundation hospitals will still be expected to meet national healthcare standards.

Guy’s and St Thomas’s, University College London, and Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge, are expected to become foundations in July. Decisions on two trusts, North Tees and Hartlepool, and Rotherham general hospitals, have been delayed at their request and dozens of hospitals have applied to the Department of Health to be referred for assessment.

The government plans wants all 175 acute hospital trusts to achieve foundation status by 2008.