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We are obviously discussing who decides which hospitals will become a foundation trust. As the Minister knows, I have a particular interest in the Royal United hospital, Bath. It does not take a star rating to be able to say that that hospital will not be at the top of the Minister's list of hospitals that will become NHS trusts when it applies for that status. The Minister will rely on what is an inherently flawed system. In an answer to me last Wednesday, his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister demonstrated a lamentable ignorance, if I may say so in all candour, of what the star-rating system was about. The right hon. Gentleman claimed in the House that it was something to do with clinical outcomes. It is not, but if it were, perhaps one would be more inclined to accept the star system as a basis for determining which hospitals will apply for foundation trust status. It is clinical outcomes, not the star-rating system, that matter to patients. Star-ratings manifestly do not reflect clinical outcomes.
I would be interested to hear from the Minister on what basis he will exercise the powers under the Bill. Perhaps he might like to reflect on whether an independent regulator, who would hopefully be divorced from the star-rating system and would
depend on more reliable evidence to determine which are to become foundation hospitals, would be a better arbiter than the Secretary of State.