Our role as a NHS Foundation Trust

NHS Foundation Trusts are part of the NHS and treat patients according to NHS quality standards and principles – free care based on need, not the ability to pay.

We became a NHS Foundation Trust on 1 May 2008 following a formal assessment by Monitor the independent regulator for NHS Foundation Trusts.  We believe that becoming a NHS Foundation Trust is the best way for us to continue to develop and deliver the best range of quality services in a way that builds on the Trust’s values and aims.

In preparing to become a NHS Foundation Trust, we ran our first elections for a Council of Governors from January to April 2008.

The key features of NHS Foundation Trusts are:

  • They are established as ‘public benefit corporations’ – similar to mutual building societies and co-operatives – which have greater freedom to run their own affairs. They are owned by their Members who represent patients, their carers, the public, staff and key partner organisations.
  • They are governed by a Council of Governors, appointed by the Members and comprising public, staff and stakeholder Governors.
  • The Council of Governors appoints a Board of Directors to direct and manage the organisation, which consists of a Chair, Non-Executive and Executive Directors.
  • NHS Foundation Trusts are controlled by a licence (‘terms of authorisation’) defining the services it must provide and setting borrowing limits. An Independent Regulator, Monitor, has powers to intervene if a Trust acts outside its licence.
  • The Secretary of State does not have powers to direct or intervene in the running of the hospital. NHS Foundation Trusts are locally accountable to their Members.
  • NHS Foundation Trusts have a legal duty of partnership with other partner organisations and assets are protected to prevent privatisation.

NHS Foundation Trusts may be locally accountable but they still also have to meet all the patient care standards set by the Care Quality Commission and the national targets set by the Department of Health.

Staff continue to be employed within the NHS and have access to the NHS pension. All NHS organisations face uncertainties with national changes such as Payment by Results and more care being offered closer to home. However, we believe the risks are no greater for NHS Foundation Trusts than any other organisation in the health service.