'The Prime Minister's decision to extend the number of foundation trusts from 25 to all 63 three-star NHS trusts is premature as it will not allow time for the careful piloting and independent evaluation of the scheme that is crucially needed,' says The King’s Fund health policy director Dr Jennifer Dixon.
'While foundation trusts have the potential to deliver real improvements in NHS performance, we cannot yet be sure of their impact. Any evaluation should take place within a reasonable fixed timeframe after the first wave of foundation trusts have been established.'
Speaking on plans announced today to extend the independent sector diagnostic and treatment centre (DTC) programme, Dr Dixon added:
'DTCs could be positive for patients as they will help to carry out routine operations faster, but it is important that patients are given the appropriate follow-up care and are not subjected to impersonal 'sausage factory' treatment.
'The main questions we have concern the extent to which DTCs represent genuinely additional capacity, where the extra staff to work at these facilities will come from given the shortage of staff in the NHS, and whether the efforts to reduce waiting lists will skew resources away from the many patients needing treatment for chronic medical conditions.'
Notes to editors:
For further information, or interviews with King's Fund staff, please contact Daniel Reynolds in the public affairs team on 020 7307 2581. The King's Fund has prepared a briefing on the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill, which can be obtained by contacting the public affairs team.