Introduction to NHS Foundation Trusts
NHS foundation trusts, first introduced in April 2004, are organisational units within the NHS in England that are able to act independently, to some degree, from the Department of Health.
The introduction of foundation trusts represented a change in the history of the NHS and the way in which hospital services are managed and provided. At the time of introduction they were described as “a sort of halfway house between the public and private sectors”. This form of NHS trust is an important part of the UK government’s programme to create a “patient-led” NHS. The stated purpose is to devolve decision-making from a centralised NHS to local communities in an effort to be more responsive to their needs and wishes.
Unique governance arrangements
NHS foundation trusts are accountable to local people, who can become members and governors. Each has a duty to consult and involve a board of governors, including patients, staff, members of the public and partner organisations, in the strategic planning of the organisation.
NHS foundation trusts can raise capital from both the public and private sectors within borrowing limits determined by projected cash flows and are therefore based on affordability. They can retain financial surpluses to invest in the delivery of new NHS services.
The are overseen by Monitor
Monitor is the sector regulator whose job it is to make healthcare work better for patients.