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Breakfast with Frost
Health Secretary Alan Milburn
Alan Milburn discussed Foundation Hospitals
On Sunday 04 May Sir David talked to the Health Secretary Alan Milburn and to the theatre director Sir Trevor Nunn.

He also interviewed the former Zimbabwean Test cricketer Henry Olonga, the the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Alan West and a veteran from the Battle of the Atlantic, Don Butcher.

The Sunday newspapers were reviewed by the actress Imogen Stubbs and the newspaper commentator Michael Brown, from the Independent.

Alan Milburn talked to Sir David about the Government's policy to introduce Foundation Hospitals and the upcoming vote on the policy in the House of Commons. He told Sir David he would be "surprised" if the scale of any Labour rebellion over the policy was as great as the record revolt over war in Iraq.

He said:"Obviously it is a controversial policy because otherwise we would not be having this debate ... I understand the concerns about this.

"(But) ultimately you can't sustain these improvements unless you get the power out there to the local staff who provide the services and unless you get a greater say for the local communities who get those services.

"Every NHS hospital is going to get the opportunity of becoming an NHS foundation hospital. This has never been about two-tierism, it's about raising standards everywhere. I'm not interested in levelling-down, what I'm interested in is levelling-up, so that every patient gets the opportunity of having a good hospital and no hospital is left behind.

"You can't run the National Health Service is if it's the Chinese Red Army from an office in Whitehall."

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Sir Trevor Nunn talked to Sir David about his experiences as a director at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. He warned that although subsidies for the arts had improved there was still a long term problem in government funding that hadn't been resolved.

He said:" We still haven't caught up and of course we're nowhere near the level of subisdy that is invested in France, in Germany - equivalent countries - so it is extraordinary but people on the whole continue to say that the greatest innovations and some of the greatest achievements in the theatre happen in this country."

And he confirmed for the first time that he was renewing his association with Andrew Lloyd Webber on a new musical - The Woman in White, based on the novel by Wilkie Collins.


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