The battle to hold board meetings in private has been lost, the head of the Foundation Trust Network has told delegates at the NHS Confederation conference.

Chair of University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust Sir Albert Bore had argued the matter was not decided, suggesting it was unlikely private providers would submit to holding their board meetings in public as set out in the future forum report.

He said: “I am totally opposed to it.

“[Holding board meetings in public] will devalue the role of non-executive directors and the challenge will be muted. If you think that splitting meetings into part A and part B will work look at local government which puts as little as possible into the public report.”

However, Lord Phillip Hunt, who helped develop the foundation trust policy as a junior Labour health minister, told delegates at the FTN led session he accepted the move to hold board meetings in public

The former Confed chief executive who is now chair of Heart of England Foundation Trust said: “I am sure from time to time the media may misinterpret some of the papers or discussion but in a sense that’s what you live with as an NHS organisation and a public body.”

FTN head Sue Slipman said it was hard to see where else there would be to go when even the opposition supported the government’s amendment to the health bill which will force foundation trusts to hold board meetings in public.

However, she told delegates she would “have some fun” turning up at BUPA meetings and demanding to be let in.