Published: 07/11/2002, Volume II2, No. 5830 Page 5

There will be no arbitrary cap on the number of foundation trusts and they will be introduced as quickly as possible, prime minister Tony Blair has said.

In an exclusive interview with HSJ, Mr Blair said the programme to introduce them will go 'as fast as it will go, consistent with principles of earned autonomy on the basis of performance'. He stressed the importance of increased freedoms for those managing the service.

Mr Blair also paid tribute to managers. The prime minister is backing HSJ's Health Management Awards, the winners of which will be announced on November 18.

He said: 'Managers are absolutely vital... because they are the people who are meant to take a step back and look at the design of the system.

'One of the reasons why I wanted to be associated with the award is in order to make clear that we really do value managers.'