A WORLD-famous heart hospital once threatened with closure could be placed in the hands of local people to decide how it is run.
Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospital NHS Trust, which runs Harefield Hospital, is involved in a consultation about whether to seek what is known as foundation status.
If this way of running the hospital were adopted, the most important change involvement of patients and the public, and less input from central Government.
It would also mean decisions about how the hospital is run, including whether to add new buildings or make changes to services, could be speeded up as there would be less bureacracy.
There are currently 32 foundation trusts in England and Wales, many of which were set up on the advice of the Department of Health (DoH).
Foundation trusts are made up of boards, and anyone can apply to be a member and gain voting powers.
A member can do as much or as little as he or she likes towards helping run the hospital, with the most heavily-involved able to stand for the post of governor.
The governors are directly responsible for appointing the chairman and are able to review all the annual reports and plans.
Jean Brett, chairwoman of Heart of Harefield, which campaigns on behalf of the hospital, in Hill End Road, Harefield, feels the move would be a positive one.
She said the most important thing about being a foundation means the trust moves away from the power of the North West London Strategic Health Authority (NWLSHA).”
The NWLSHA was behind plans to close the hospital in 2000 and move its services to the Paddington Health Campus (PHC) – which was scrapped last year.
Mrs Brett said: “The hospital is thriving. It’s a three star trust for the second year running and it needs people who care about it to come forward and get involved.
“I am not sure yet if I would stand for the board of governors, but I can certainly say our group is totally behind this scheme.”
Robert Craig, foundation trust project director, and an employee of Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We hope to meet as many people as possible to hear their views and encourage them to get involved.
“If we achieve foundation trust status our members will play an important role in shaping NHS heart and lung services.”
* The consultation ends on May 19, and if responses to the idea show it is popular, an application will be made to the DoH for foundation status on June 9. To get involved in the consultation, or for more information, call 01895 828 631.