LONDON, March 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Stafford Hospital is a classic case of the government's 'flawed' privatisation agenda for the NHS, Unite, the largest union in the country, said today (Wednesday, 18 March).

The hospital, run by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, where more than 400 people are said to have died over a three year period - an above average figure - is 'an example of what happens when the target obsessed privatisation culture takes hold'.

David Fleming, Unite National Officer for Health, said: 'This is a classic example of the fragmented and insidious approach to dismantling the NHS and providing alternatives that are never going to be as good.'

'The Staffordshire case is the perfect example about what happens when you put profit before the patient. A foundation trust, by its very DNA, has a commercial bias which besmirches the 1948 ideals that set-up the NHS.'

'Foundation trusts are one of the first steps along the road of creating competitive markets and opening up of the possibility of an increasing amount of public services being handed to the private sector under the banner of service reform.'

'The Staffordshire case demonstrates the bankruptcy of this flawed ideology.'

'Current government NHS reforms are designed to involve the private sector on a scale and scope never before seen; the accumulative impact of which threatens to undermine the fundamental values of the NHS.'


Foundation Trust status means that although the trust is still technically within the NHS the ownership of services and assets passes from the Secretary of State to the relevant independent corporation. They are able to make capital investments, sell certain assets, retain and sit on surpluses, can borrow money commercially and, as companies, can risk insolvency.

Unlike the rest of the NHS they are not required to break even. They also have more freedom to enter into direct agreements with private sector partners. They are also able to generate income by treating private patients - though they are not supposed to prioritise those patients above NHS patients.

Because they can act as independent organisations they do not have to consult with other organisations - such as primary care trusts (PCTs) - in the local health economy.

For further information, please ring: David Fleming, National Officer, Health, +44(0)7798-531013; Karen Reay, National Officer, Health +44(0)7798-531-004; Shaun Noble, Communications Officer (Health Sector), +44(0)20-7420-8951, +44(0)7768-693-940