The King's Fund's future was raised at its annual genera l meeting by its president, the Duke of Gloucester.

He said it was natural to inquire what the fund was going to do with its capital assets of several million pounds now that the need to sustain the voluntary hospitals had passed into history.

But from its early days the fund had never accepted that its opportunities were limited to distributing grants.

It had been at the centre of broadening the duties and responsibilities of hospitals towards their communities.

If it now became a 'foundation' rather than a 'fund', the opportunities remained. Indeed, they were vastly increased.

The whole hospital world was in the throes of evolutionary developments, the ultimate outcome of which no one could foresee.

The fund's management committee was earnestly considering modifying the organisation along the lines of an American foundation, the duke added.