Foundation trusts have a significant amount of managerial and financial freedom when compared to NHS hospital trusts. The introduction of NHS foundation trusts represented a change in the history of the National Health Service and the way in which hospital services are managed and provided.
This form of NHS trust is an important part of the United Kingdom government's programme to create a "patient-led" NHS. Their 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.
Foundation Trusts are considered mutual structures akin to co-operatives, where local people, patients and staff can become members and governors and hold the Trust to account. For example, Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has 31 Governors, made up of Appointed, Public and Staff Governors who act as a key link between patients and the public and the Board of Directors. Some trusts are more committed to co-operative principles and have even written the Rochdale Principles into their constitution and aspire to work closely and in partnership with other mutual as well as local organisations.
By October 2012 there were 144 NHS foundation trusts (41 of them mental health trusts). They are authorised and regulated by Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts. They include acute trusts, mental health, community and ambulance trusts. A full list of NHS foundation trusts can be found on Monitor's website. With the authorisation of North East Ambulance Service in November 2011, the North East became the first region with all trusts having gained foundation trust status.
The trade body for foundation trusts and trusts aspiring to FT status is the Foundation Trust Network (FTN). The chief executive of the FTN is Chris Hopson.
Read more about this topic: NHS Foundation Trust
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