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National Health Service Foundation Trusts

The Secretary of State for Health (Ms Patricia Hewitt): The Healthcare Commission (the statutory name of which is the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection) has today published the outcome of a review of national health service foundation trusts, copies of which are available in the Library.

The review was commissioned by the then Secretary of State for Health (Dr. Reid) on 19 November 2003, Official Report, column 826 and has examined the experiences, challenges and issues for those trusts that became NHS foundation trusts on 1 April 2004 and 1 July 2004. In particular, the review considered the effects that NHS foundation trusts had on access to and quality of healthcare and relationships within local health economies, and the impact of the new governance arrangements and obstacles faced by NHS foundation trusts.

The outcome of the review is encouraging. I am pleased that NHS foundation trusts have made a good start to providing better quality services to NHS patients. While it is early days NHS foundation trusts are making good progress in developing new services and improving accountability. The Healthcare Commission review found that NHS foundation trusts have:

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I also welcome the fact that some of the concerns about NHS foundation trusts have not materialised, for example NHS foundation trusts:

There is much we can learn as we move forward with change that is centred around making NHS services more responsive to the needs of NHS patients in the twenty-first century.

I should like to thank the Healthcare Commission for conducting this thorough review and producing its report to a short timetable. The introduction of NHS foundation trusts changes greatly the way in which healthcare is managed and delivered through the NHS. Such trusts are designed to sustain, and not displace the core NHS principles of universality and equity; with access based on clinical need and free at the point of use.
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The Government will also consider fully the lessons from this review for the continuing development of NHS foundation trusts.


Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office

The Solicitor-General (Mr. Mike O'Brien): My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has made the following written ministerial statement:

"I refer to the statement made today by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary concerning Operation Venison, Operation Hellvellyn and others.

In the light of criticisms made of a prosecutor in Operation Venison, the director of the independent Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO) has removed that person from operational duty. In addition the director is urgently considering whether any other cases may be affected by the Venison judgment".


Government Chemist Review 2004

The Minister for Energy (Malcolm Wicks): The eighth annual review of the Government Chemist has been received. The review will be laid before the Scottish Parliament and copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses plus those of the devolved Administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland.