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Foundation Hospitals

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 15 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether under Clause 15 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill organisations other than NHS trusts who gain foundation hospital status will be limited as to the percentage of private patients they treat in their first year of foundation hospital status; and whether they will be able to treat the same percentage in each year thereafter. [108429]

Clause 15 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill will not apply to organisations other than national health service trusts that become NHS foundation trusts because they will not have been major providers of NHS services in the year prior to gaining foundation status. However, they will have to work according to the same principal purpose as any other foundation trust and the Regulator will have discretion to apply particular terms of authorisation in order to ensure that they do not act outside that purpose.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how hospitals in less prosperous areas will be empowered by the Secretary of State to obtain investment levels equivalent to those of Foundation Hospitals in more prosperous areas which sell non protected assets at high value.[108440]

[holding answer 10 April 2003]: In the future, all providers of national health service care will be paid at the national tariff, which will allow them to formulate their investment plans. In deciding their investment plans, the benefits asset rich trusts may gain from reconfiguration and recycling of proceeds from disposals will be off-set by additional public dividend capital (PDC) dividends that they will be expected to pay on their more expensive asset base. Trusts with a less valuable asset base will carry a lower PDC burden and will therefore be able to support a higher level of new borrowing.Strategic capital, central capital and the private finance initiative will continue to be available to effect significant change in the NHS estate and clinical need will be one of the factors considered when projects are being prioritised.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on whether Foundation Hospital borrowing, on the basis of income from trading it may establish with its non-protected assets, will be off the public sector borrowing requirement.[108441]

[holding answer 10 April 2003]: Classification in the national accounts is a matter for the Office for National Statistics.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the annual costs to the trust boards of foundations hospitals of (a) maintaining and operating their lists of members and (b) conducting elections to the boards of foundation hospitals.[108596]

The costs of setting up the new governance arrangements for national health service foundation trusts will depend on the detail of the constitutional arrangements that apply in each case. NHS foundation trusts will be expected to show these costs in their annual accounts. The Department of Health will work with, and offer practical support to, second stage applicants for NHS foundation trust status to help them prepare for implementation of their new governance arrangements.