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New Clause 12 — De-authorisation of NHS foundation trusts

Part of New Member – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 12th October 2009.

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Photo of Sandra Gidley Sandra Gidley Shadow Health Minister 5:15 pm, 12th October 2009

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, which relates to my next point. The process of awarding foundation trust status or the old three-star ratings seems to be based on financial information. I never thought that I would regard my hon. Friend Dr. Harris as a soothsayer, but I did when I looked back at what was said when we debated the Bill that created foundation trusts. My hon. Friend asked the then Minister, Mr. Hutton:

"What does the Secretary of State do when a hospital with a three-star or two-star rating is subject to a scandal"?-[ Hansard, 7 May 2003; Vol. 404, c. 730.]

Unfortunately, the Minister was very unhelpful in his summing up and he seemed to think that my hon. Friend was speaking complete rubbish. It is easy to dismiss remarks, buy my hon. Friend was obviously making very prescient comments.

It has been clear throughout-the current Secretary of State for Health was, I think, on the Health Committee at the time-that the three-star trusts usually gain that status because of financial issues. If finance is put alongside quality ratings, there is often a mismatch. I agree entirely with all those who have said in today's short debate that quality is being sacrificed at the altar of financial probity. We cannot separate the two, because quality is something that should not be allowed to drop under any circumstances. My original question about whether the process or Monitor were at fault remains pertinent, as there has clearly been a lack of liaison and a lack of attention to aspects other than financial ones.

The Liberal Democrats will not oppose new clause 12. Although there is some regret about the fact that it has appeared so late in the day, I think that ultimately it is a good thing. It will allow more transparency and make decision making more accountable, and that can only be good.

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