Milburn lays foundation for new-style hospitals

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A new generation of "foundation" hospitals, which have autonomy from Whitehall and more money to invest in patient care, will be up and running within a year, the Secretary of State for Health said yesterday.

A new generation of "foundation" hospitals, which have autonomy from Whitehall and more money to invest in patient care, will be up and running within a year, the Secretary of State for Health said yesterday.

Some of the best NHS trusts in England are already vying to win the new status which will free them from government interference, allow them to borrow money to extend wards, and pay higher salaries to staff.

Alan Milburn said: "This is a fundamental change. Not in how the NHS is funded or the values on which it is founded, but in how it is organised. NHS healthcare no longer needs to be delivered exclusively by line-managed NHS organisations."

To qualify, trusts will have to demonstrate their expertise, and gain the backing of local GPs. The first wave of trusts will be chosen this autumn.

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