The government is considering clawing back powers from foundation trusts in response to the Mid Staffordshire scandal.
Health minister Ben Bradshaw told a Commons health committee hearing it may legislate so it can direct foundations to act, and de-authorise them.
Mid Staffordshire foundation trust gained foundation status shortly after the Healthcare Commission began to look at standards of care there, and after its higher than expected hospital standardised mortality rate had been identified.
Asked whether the government should be able to remove foundation status, Mr Bradshaw said: “That is something that certainly I think will be part of the deliberations that are currently under way at the department at the highest level to decide what legislation may be necessary to address some of the concerns that have arisen out of this case.”
The health bill before Parliament includes provision for foundations to be de-authorised under the government’s plans for unsustainable providers, but this would be triggered by the regulator, Monitor.
The Healthcare Commission report on the trust said it was secretive and noted its board met in private. An HSJ straw poll in April suggested less than a quarter of foundation boards met in public, contradicting government guidance.
Asked whether ministers should be able to direct foundations to do so, Mr Bradshaw said: “If there are still foundation trusts that are not meeting in public that is something they themselves need to address.
“However, we are considering at the moment in relation to [that and] some other issues, about personnel matters and foundation trust management and boards, whether we may need to take further powers.
“We are prepared to consider what extra powers a government may need to take.”