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Ambulance funding plan is unhealthy, say campaigners

PUBLISHED: 16:29 05 August 2009 | UPDATED: 15:37 16 August 2010

PATIENTS claim plans to turn the London Ambulance Service into a foundation trust is privatisation by the backdoor . Residents also claim the 14-week consultation, which ended in May and is currently being assessed by LAS bosses, was not well publicise

PATIENTS claim plans to turn the London Ambulance Service into a foundation trust is "privatisation by the backdoor".

Residents also claim the 14-week consultation, which ended in May and is currently being assessed by LAS bosses, was not well publicised.

Trust chiefs are finalising the application to become a foundation trust, which is due to be handed in next year.

Foundation status allows trusts to keep surplus funds, prompting concern they will be left without adequate safeguards against misspending.

Pensioner Peter Coulter, 80, from Bexleyheath, said: "It is privatisation by the backdoor. A lot of people involved with healthcare are being blinded by the enticement of profit.

"If it's not broke, why fix it? This government has fiddled about with the health service so much and created too many quangos."

Violet Cowcher, 86, of Brampton Road, Bexleyheath, uses the ambulance service to get to the urology department in Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel.

She said: "Nobody knew what was going on with the changes to the hospitals and it is going to be the same with this.

"It is not a good idea at all. I was in an ambulance and I spoke to the driver about it and she was very much against it.

"If ambulance drivers are saying we don't want this, then they know best."

Dr John Lister from pressure group London Health Emergency said: "Foundation trusts further fragment services and become accountable to the regulator and not locally. The independent regulator Monitor are run nearly entirely by staff from the private sector. Foundation trusts are more and more expected to run as if it was private."

An LAS spokesperson said: "We hope to become an NHS foundation trust as we believe that it will give the public, and our staff, a real say in their health service.

"As a foundation trust, we will remain part of the NHS and will continue to provide free medical care to all our patients. It will also mean that we will be able to keep our surplus funds, which we will reinvest in services for our patients.

"Foundation trusts have to meet national standards and targets, and be inspected by independent bodies, just as we are now.

"All the events were advertised on our website and the Greenwich and Bexley events were also advertised in a local newspaper. The consultation was also advertised in a London-wide paper."

For more information visit www.londonambulance.nhs.uk/ft.

l What do you think?

Write to news editor kate.mead@archant.co.uk

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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