The Quangocracy: Tory party packs NHS Trusts

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The Independent Online
NEARLY pounds 2m has been given to the Conservative Party and Tory 'front' organisations by companies whose directors now sit on NHS Trusts.

The financial link is revealed by new research into Government 'quango packing', which also shows that Conservatives are six times more likely to be appointed to health trusts than Labour supporters.

An investigation by the Labour Research Department discloses that directors of firms which gave at least pounds 1.8m to Tory party funds since the mid- seventies have been appointed by the Government to trust boards.

LRD's research, the first comprehensive examination of the social and political background of the men and women running the 482 NHS Trusts, is certain to be exploited by the Opposition in Tuesday's parliamentary debate on quangos and 'sleaze'.

It shows that 120 trusts have among their non-executive board members either a Conservative figure or someone who is a leading figure in a company which has given money to Tory party funds.

The Tory trust directors include: Sir Robert Clarke, chairman of United Biscuits, the largest corporate donor -pounds 130,000 - to Tory funds in 1992/93 (Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children).

Stanley Kalms, chairman of Dixons, which gave pounds 100,000, and said to be also a personal donor (chair of King's Healthcare Trust).

Ken Addison, former chief executive of Sun Alliance, which gave a total of pounds 478,000 (director of Croydon Community Trust).

George Kennedy, chairman of a division of Smith Industries which has donated over pounds 100,000 (Kent and Canterbury Hospitals Trust).

Lord Stafford, director of a division of Tarmac whose parent company gave pounds 413,500 between 1979 and 1992 (Mental Health Foundation of Mid- Staffordshire Trust).

Sixty-six NHS Trusts are chaired by a Tory or someone connected with a company which has made a donation. Only four chairs - less than 1 per cent of the total - are connected with the Labour Party.

Only 20 trusts, or one in 25, have boards whose members include someone with clear Labour links and six where there is a clear trade union connection.

Eleven trusts have links with the Liberal Democrats.

In all, 43 per cent of trust directorships are held by people from the business world.

But among the directors are a number of spouses of Tory MPs - five in all.

Dr Tom Shephard, husband of Gillian Shephard the Secretary of State for Education, is a director of the Kings Lynn and Wisbech Hospitals Trust; Lady Taylor, wife of Sir Teddy Taylor, chairs the Southend Community Care Trust; Lady June Onslow, wife of Cranley Onslow, sits on the board of the North Downs Community Health Trust; Joyce Dunn, wife of the Dartford MP Robert Dunn, is a director of the Dartford and Gravesham Trust, and Lady Gardiner, wife of Sir George Gardiner, chairs the Surrey Ambulance Service Trust.

Trusts are also stuffed with former Tory MPs and peers, including Sir Timothy Raison, Sir Robert McCrindle, Lord Jenkin, the former Conservative health secretary, Lord Hayhoe, Baroness Cox, Maureen Hicks, John Lee, Tony Favell and Lord Wade.

LRD comments: 'The occupational backgrounds of trust directors reveals that the establishment of trusts has sent the NHS back to the days when it was managed by the 'great and the good' of the local community. Businessmen, accountants, solicitors and local worthies are more likely to be found on the boards than people with health service experience or real community links.'

Trust chairs, appointed by the Secretary of State for Health, Virginia Bottomley, earn up to pounds 20,000 a year, and non-executive directors receive pounds 5,000.