So in Wednesday’s edition of the Guv’nor chronicles you all found out I’d been elected a Governor of the University College of London Hospital (UCLH) National Health Service (NHS) Foundation Trust. Putting my experiences of the hospital to good use and helping improve the experience for other patients, as I like to put it.
It’s a bit of a funny term, though, this ‘Foundation Trust’ business, and I have to admit I had very little idea of what it meant so to help readers, members and anyone else unsure – here’s the low down on Foundation Trust status, from someone on the inside.
Back in the day, before 2004, UCLH was a simple NHS hospital trust, providing health care commissioned by primary care trusts with the help of strategic health authorities. Foundation trusts were announced in 2002 by the Health Secretary as a new step forward for highly efficient hospital trusts. UCLH fitted into this category and was one of the first hospital trusts to jump through the hoops required to gain more managerial and financial freedom as part of Foundation Trust status.
The stated purpose of a foundation trust is to devolve decision-making from a centralised NHS to local communities in an effort to be more responsive to their needs and wishes – which is where Governors come in. Local people, patients (& carers in our case), and staff can become members and governors and hold the Trust to account. It’s all very laudable…
Experiences seem to vary widely – while some Trusts place a lot in the hands of their Governors, other Governors feel less able to contribute and achieve improvements, at least according to research done (which I have a hard copy of but can’t find online). I am particularly excited to be on the Governing Body at UCLH because of the changes already put into effect by earlier Governors, some of whom retire this year. This bodes well for what I can work towards. We have a membership base of over 6000 and most elections are hotly contested. Governors get involved in a wide variety of activities aside from the most basic statutory requirements of the role (we’ll get onto that next time) and I’ll be blogging about many of these and other causes I’m working towards as part of it all. Such fun!
My new local hospital trust – St George’s Hospital Trust – are going through the steps of becoming a Foundation Trust and have recently released a lovely little 3 minute video about it.
Any questions yet? Do please ask and comment below.