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What are NHS Foundation Trusts?

NHS Foundation Trusts are membership organisations and are run differently.

Through their members and an elected Council of Governors, they are better able to listen and respond to the views of staff, patients and local people. They remain firmly part of the NHS, but have greater freedom from central Government control.

Foundation Trusts also have to meet national quality standards and are inspected in the same way as other hospitals.

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▶   What advantages are there to being a Foundation Trust?

They provide a form of public ownership so local people and staff have a real stake in developing services which reflect their needs and expectations, making them more accountable to communities they serve. They have greater financial freedom and are able to keep and invest any money they generate in new services, equipment and buildings. They don’t need to get agreement from other organisations like the Department of Heath to change and improve their services, so they can be more innovative in the services they provide and make decisions more quickly.

▶   As a Foundation Trust are you still part of the NHS or are you privatised?

Foundation Trusts remain part of the NHS and share all the same values – delivering care and treatment based on need and not the ability to pay. There are limits on the amount of private treatment Foundation Trusts can offer and the Health and Social Care Act 2012 gives the Council of Governors some specific new powers where the Trust is considering changes to the amount of Private Patient income it is looking to raise.

▶   How is the organisation now that you are a Foundation Trust?

Local people and staff are encouraged to be members. Membership gives people the right to vote for the Council of Governors who will work with the Board of Directors to set the strategic direction of the organisation.

The Board of Directors is responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation. The Council of Governors represents the views of local people and is be responsible for appointing the Chair and Non-Executive Directors on the Board of Directors. The Council of Governors also works with the Board of Directors on the strategic direction of the organisation and the Health and Social Care Act 2012 gives the Council a specific new duty to hold the Board to account for the Trust’s performance via the Non Executive Directors.

▶   Who can become a member?

You can become a member if you are over 14 years old and live in one of the six geographical areas called constituencies that we cover, these are:

  • Elmbridge
  • Hounslow, Kingston-upon-Thames, and Richmond-upon-Thames
  • Runnymede, Surrey Heath, Windsor and Maidenhead
  • Spelthorne
  • Woking and Guildford
  • Rest of Surrey

All staff are automatically opted in as members but can opt out if they wish.

▶   Is there a limit to the number of members?

No, there isn’t a limit to the number of members but we do need a minimum number of members (an average of 50 for each constituency) to reflect the views of each constituency, which is why it is so important that people become a member. We also want to make sure that our membership is socially inclusive and accessible to everyone.

▶   How do I become a member – do I have to pay?

If you would like to become a member you can do this on line either fill in the application form in this document consultation document, or complete it online or contact us on 01932 722063 and we will send you a form by post. Membership is completely free.

▶   What will I have to do as a member?

You can be involved as much or as little as you like. All members will be kept up-to-date about developments and events at Ashford and St. Peter’s. You will have the opportunity to take part in consultations on services, and join focus groups if you would like to, or you can just receive information from us through our regular newsletter.

▶   Who can become a governor?

Anyone who is a member over 16 years old can stand as a governor and you can nominate yourself. You would need to provide an election statement and a declaration of interests and a candidate’s declaration to make sure you are eligible to stand. There is a regular cycle of elections.

▶   What would I have to do as a governor, how much influence would I really have?

As a governor you would have a real opportunity to shape our future. Although you would not be involved in the day to day running of the Trust at an operational level, as part of the Council of Governors you would advise the Board of Directors in representing the views of your local community.

▶   Do governors receive a salary?

No; governors do not receive a salary but they are reimbursed for reasonable expenses for travel etc.

▶   Who oversees your performance externally?

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) which is responsible for inspecting the quality and safety of services provided by NHS organisations monitors our performance.

In addition, an organisation called NHS Improvement, which oversees the activities of all Foundation Trusts, makes sure we are run effectively as an organisation. NHS Improvement has the powers to intervene in the running of a Foundation Trusts if there are failings in healthcare standards or other activities which breach its terms of authorisation.

You can find out more about the Care Quality Commission and NHS Improvement on their websites, www.cqc.org.uk and https://improvement.nhs.uk/.

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