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BEECHAM QUESTIONS PLANS FOR FOUNDATION HOSPITAL ELECTIONS

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Labour's most senior councillor has hit out at the government proposals for directly elected board members on its p...
Labour's most senior councillor has hit out at the government proposals for directly elected board members on its planned foundation trust hospitals.

Sir Jeremy Beecham, chairman of the Local Government Association, warned that the governance proposals for the new semi-detached trusts are badly thought-out and flawed.

In a speech given at the Public Policy Seminar, Sir Jeremy described the

government's refusal to consider local authority involvement in the governance

of such bodies as 'completely unacceptable'.

Sir Jeremy asked how it was possible to define the constituency of a major teaching hospital or a regional specialist centre. He repeated previous warnings that the boards could be captured by narrow special interest groups and political extremists.

'Is there not a danger that this extension of the principle of direct election to separate institutions will further intensify the silo mentality which is the curse of government and the public services?'

He raised the spectre of directly elected school boards, learning and skills councils, and housing trusts 'all with separate constituencies making it harder to achieve effective co-operation and community-wide accountability'.

Meanwhile, former minister Stephen Byers has called for primary care trusts to have elected members and tax raising powers in a speech given to the Social

Market Foundation on Wednesday in

London.

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