FOUNDATION hospitals were blasted as a ``half-baked idea" by Labour MP David Hinchliffe during a Commons debate.
He spoke out as the Government scraped home on its NHS shake-up proposals. Its 160-plus majority was cut to 17.
But the plan was under threat today after fierce opposition in the Lords.
Mr Hinchliffe, whose Wakefield constituency includes Kirkburton and Denby Dale and who is chairman of the Commons health select committee, dismissed the idea of foundation hospitals.
He said: "This policy represents a return to a market ethos and to competition."
Huddersfield Royal Infirmary could be among the initial foundation hospitals, which will be handed operational and financial freedom.
The Government has promised a review between next autumn and autumn, 2005, on the progress of the first wave.
But Mr Hinchliffe said: "I don't think we need this review, because we can turn the clock back a few years and look at exactly what was happening under the Conservatives' internal market.
"The same processes will emerge, whereby there will be winners and losers."
Peers last night threw out the reforms just hours after they scraped through the Commons.
The deadlock means MPs have to debate the measure while the mass rally against US President George W Bush's visit to the UK takes place.
Mr Hinchliffe said he was worried that MPs would support the policy because they had foundation applicants in their own areas.
But they were failing to address the implications on the wider NHS, he said.
Foundation hospitals were a departure from the "very successful" policy of a primary care-led NHS, Mr Hinchliffe told the Commons.
He condemned "tokenistic" concessions to democracy in running such hospitals and said they had not been properly thought through.
Mr Hinchliffe said the cash that would be spent on the first 25 hospitals applying for foundation status was "scarce NHS money" that was being "wasted on what I think, frankly, is a half-baked idea."
The Health Department said today there would be no compromise.
A spokesman said: "The Government wants this Bill with foundation trusts in it and it will not be blackmailed by the House of Lords."
Related stories and messageboards