HL Deb 18 January 2005 vol 668 cc23-4WS
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner)

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health has made the following Written Ministerial Statement today.

I have today placed in the Library a list of National Health Service trusts that submitted a preliminary application for NHS foundation trust status in late November 2004, as part of wave 2, and that have been successful in the preliminary application phase. All 32 trusts, including for the first time eight mental health trusts, will now enter the preparatory phase of the application process for NHS foundation trust status.

Applicants must satisfy the requirements of the preparatory phase and retain a three star rating this summer in order to receive my support to make an application to Monitor (whose statutory name is the Independent Regulator of NHS foundation trusts) for consideration for authorisation as a NHS foundation trust. The objective of the preparatory phase is to help applicants to develop the arrangements and systems that they will need to have in place to be established as NHS foundation trusts and operate successfully. The preparatory phase will therefore include developing new governance arrangements, a five year business strategy and a human resources strategy. Applicants will also be required to undergo an independent financial review and hold a public consultation where they must demonstrate that they have consulted staff, local NHS partners and the public on their proposals and that their proposals fit with the local vision for health services.

I expect to make decisions on preparatory phase applications in autumn 2005 only after I have had the opportunity to consider fully the outcome of the review into the policy by the Healthcare Commission (whose statutory name is the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection). This is due to be published in summer 2005. Applicants will begin their public consultation only after the outcome of the review is known, which will allow them to take into consideration issues arising from the review when finalising their preparatory phase proposals. Once applicants have received my support, decisions on authorisations will strictly be for Monitor after having satisfied itself of an applicant's preparedness and viability for foundation status.