Meeting will give patients more details about Trust's foundation bid

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By Walsall Advertiser | Thursday, September 27, 2012, 09:20

PATIENTS, their families, carers and residents of all ages are being given an opportunity to find out more about Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust's bid to become a Foundation Trust at a meeting next week.

Walsall Council's Health Scrutiny and Performance Panel will be discussing the issue at Walsall Council House on Thursday, October 4, in response to a request from Blakenall ward Councillor Pete Smith.

The session will give anyone interested in the future provision of healthcare services at Walsall Manor Hospital a greater understanding of Foundation Trusts and an opportunity to listen to speakers both for and against this. There will also be an opportunity for people to ask questions.

Councillor Marco Longhi, panel chair, said: "Following Cllr Smith's Notice of Motion at an earlier full council meeting, we have been making arrangements for a meeting to take place.

"It is an issue that has been widely discussed by the scrutiny panel for a number of months but October's meeting will give members of the public another chance to debate and ask questions about this bid.

"The Trust believes becoming a Foundation Trust will better enable it to serve the specific needs of residents, but those with varying viewpoints will be able to detail them at the meeting."

Cllr Longhi added: "The public consultation period has closed but the Trust is keen to continue working with patients and residents to shape future service provision."

But Cllr Smith spoke this week of his fears that a successful bid for Foundation Status could be a 'pathway to eventual privatisation of the NHS'.

"This debate will hopefully give people a chance to find out more about the pros and cons of Foundation Status for the Manor Hospital as I believe many do not really understand what it means or what the implications are," Cllr Smith said.

"Many people in Walsall , including myself, believe that the Foundation Status pathway, laid down by the last Labour Government and continued by this Tory/Liberal Government, is yet another pathway to eventual privatisation of the NHS. Others will disagree.

"Let us hope that we can have a good, fair, debate about this on October 4."

Richard Kirby, chief executive of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, said Securing Foundation Status would provide "a voice for the local community and a first-class patient experience".

Next Thursday's meeting starts at 6pm.

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