Regulators have authorised two community providers to become foundation trusts, as part of what could be the last wave under the current approval process.
Monitor announced today that Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust and Sussex Community NHS Trust had both been given foundation trust status.
“It’s good to see more community trusts being given foundation trust status”
With over 5,000 staff delivering 120 services, Birmingham Community was formed in 2010 to create a single community provider across the city. It also operates some services for the West Midlands.
The latter is the main provider of community NHS healthcare across West Sussex, Brighton and Hove and High Weald Lewes Havens area of East Sussex. It employs around 4,750 full-time and part-time staff.
Commenting on the authorisation of the two trusts, Monitor executive director of provider appraisal Miranda Carter said: “I’m delighted to announce the creation of these two new foundation trusts. It is a true testament to the hard work and dedication of every member of their staff.
“As foundation trusts, these two organisations now have the freedom to develop services more tailored to the needs of the populations they serve,” she said.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, added: “This is great news for both trusts and it’s good to see more community trusts being given foundation trust status.
“Despite the financial and operational challenges facing NHS providers, foundation status remains highly relevant and something for trusts to aspire towards,” he said.
“It is a true testament to the hard work and dedication of every member of their staff”
Under plans to create a reformed regulatory structure for the health service, Monitor will also officially join with the NHS Trust Development Authority to form the new body NHS Improvement from today.
A Monitor director last week said that, following the merger, there would be a “revised approach” to authorising foundation trusts and that Birmingham and Sussex along with Wirral Community NHS Trust would be the last to be assessed under the old system.
Monitor managing director of provider regulation Stephen Hay said a new system would be revealed in the summer.
The comments came on the same day a report was released into care quality issues at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust – problems that were partly attributed to its drive to become an foundation trust.
The report from Capsticks into what went wrong at the organisation said there was a “sustained drive towards achieving NHS foundation trust status by the board” since 2011.
It added: “What followed until the early part of 2014 was an accompanying focus to reduce costs, which resulted in enormous pressures on many frontline services and the emergence of a culture of bullying and harassment of staff at various levels within the organisation and the delivery to some patients of poor and in some cases substandard care.”
Monitor’s assessment process was also criticised in the authorisation of St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which was made an foundation trust last year before revealing a large deficit, which had been missed by the assessment team, their auditors and the trust’s leadership.
The news comes the day after the announcement of 41 “sustainability and transformation plan” footprints, which will lead the development of local services.