Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Monday, 23 March 2009

Protest against foundation status

Protesters have gathered outside Grantham Hospital to voice their concerns over the future of the Lincolnshire's eight hospitals.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has applied for foundation status.

The public sector union Unison said the move would see the hospitals run like businesses and warned it would affect patient care.

But the trust has dismissed the claims and accused officials of worrying local people unduly.

Unison said in a statement: "NHS staff fear that the recent events in Birmingham and mid-Staffordshire hospitals will be repeated in Lincolnshire.

"And NHS staff fear that the public are not being made aware of the dire consequence of their local hospitals reaching foundation status."

Regional secretary Helen Black added: "Evidence tells us that when trusts become foundation trusts they start to operate more and more like private businesses and less and less like health-care providers for local communities."

'Scaremongering' tactics

Last week the Healthcare Commission criticised Stafford Hospital for failings in emergency care and for managers pursuing targets to the detriment of patient care.

Hospitals granted foundation status have more freedom from government control, the power to set their own priorities and a greater say over how to spend their budgets.

In a statement, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: "We have tried to meet with Unison to discuss their concerns directly, but they have so far failed to do so.

"The claims about services being downgraded or patient care suffering as a result of NHS foundation trust status are without evidence.

"There are no plans to downgrade or close A&E services at Grantham as the union has suggested. Unison appear to be intent on scaremongering and unduly worrying local people."

The trust runs hospitals in Louth, Boston, Grantham, Lincoln, Gainsborough, Skegness and Spalding.


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