The coalition has revealed proposals for the creation of "free hospitals" in England and Wales. After the unexpected success of the "free schools" programme, the Government has decided to bring forward plans to roll out public-run institutions in other services. A Department of Health source stated, "There is clearly an appetite amongst members of the public to run their own services and it ties in nicely with our Big Society initiative. It will also save us a lot of hassle".
The changes will make it easier for "new providers" such as parents, small businesses and medical enthusiasts to set up hospitals. Ministers have removed much of the unnecessary red tape which can prevent new hospitals being set up, such as the onerous training requirements of doctors. Government will also maintain a "hands-off" approach to evaluating the quality of care. "We need more hospitals, so the last thing we should do is shut them down just because they aren't up to scratch" explained the source.
After a cursory assessment of each submission, Ministers are expected to give the green light to all but the most slapdash of proposals. The insider continued, "We can't be seen to let everything through as the public's safety is of near paramount importance to us."
The coalition document, to be released next week, will give new hospitals more freedom over the treatments they offer. These will no longer be limited to therapies proven effective by time-consuming and costly clinical trials. The erstwhile strict hygiene requirements will also be relaxed widening the pool of potential hospital premises.
Following the new Government guidelines, businesses will be able to deliver health solutions from any unused office space, while families might choose to run smaller wards directly out of their garages or any other spare outbuildings.
The source concluded, “We are confident that these changes will result in a wide range of health care outcomes which has to be good for patient choice.”