All state-owned hospitals could gain independence by 2012, according to the regulator of foundation trusts.
William Moyes, the chairman of Monitor, said he expects 40 foundation hospitals to be created each year leaving just 20, which are unable to pass due to financial regulations.
He said the remaining few are “not commercially viable” to be made into foundations and if the government wants to keep the service in those areas, “it must either give it a subsidy, as it does with rural transport, or allow a merger with a more viable trust”.
Currently, there are 112 acute and mental health trusts that remain under Whitehall control, but he said he has reached the halfway point in the process of changing the NHS from a government controlled industry into a network of competing organisations.
The announcement comes after the Monitor board, which is responsible for deciding when hospitals are ready for independence, approved the 113th foundation hospital.
The next to gain independence will be Central Manchester and Manchester Children’s University Hospitals on January 1.
Once all the hospitals reach foundation status the management of the hospitals “will not be the day-to-day business of government”.
Copyright Press Association 2008