Published: 24/04/2003, Volume II3, No. 5825 Page 7

Foundation trusts have been backed by the Scottish Conservative party, which has pledged to introduce them north of the border if they win next week's parliamentary election.

Though the Conservative Party in England has remained on the fence over foundation trusts, Tory leader in Scotland David McLetchie said this week that devolving real power to hospitals was the way forward.

The Scottish Executive, led last term by a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition had firmly rejected the foundation hospital route for Scotland. Instead, this year's white paper, Partnership for Care, wanted to end any suggestion of an internal market by abolishing trusts and giving more power to unified health boards which would be responsible both for commissioning and providing healthcare.

But Mr McLetchie said: '[Our] policies aim to consign the debate over waiting times and waiting lists to history. A key element is to give hospitals foundation status.'

He said hospitals would be run as not-for-profit companies and be free from 'interference of topdown planning' from the Scottish government.

The Scottish Labour Party said foundation trusts 'were not the right way forward for Scotland'.

lThe Scottish National Party said at the weekend that the introduction of foundation trusts in England would make it essential for Scottish trusts to be able to give nurses higher pay to compete in the recruitment market.