What is an NHS Foundation Trust?
NHS Foundation Trusts are still part of the NHS but they have more freedom in how they run things. Local people and staff are able to have more say in how things are done, this can be achieved by people becoming Foundation Trust Members and through the Council of Governors.   NHS Foundation Trusts will be controlled locally not nationally, freeing NHS Foundation Trusts from day to day control by the Department of Health will encourage greater local

How will being an NHS Foundation Trust affect services and me?

The provision of our core services won't change much at all, particularly in the short term. As an NHS Foundation Trust we would have a licence which says what services we can provide, and ensures that we continue to provide core services. In the medium to long term we would be able to explore ways to develop these services, and also new areas. Being an NHS Foundation Trust means we would have the opportunity to borrow money to start new services or to make improvements to buildings or accommodation to make it more suitable.

Will the trust still provide the same services?
We would still provide all the main services we do now and would hopefully make them even better. We would listen to our members to find out what other services the members feel we should be providing as an NHS Foundation Trust. We will have more freedom to expand the range of services we offer.

How will Walsall Healthcare Care be run?
The trust would be run by a Board of Directors, very much like it is now. There would also be a Council of Governors which would be made up of people who have been elected by members, who will be local people and staff.   Our key stakeholder organisations will also be represented on this council.

What are the financial benefits of Foundation Status?

Walsall Healthcare would be able to access more capital investment and would use this in order to improve the buildings, general surroundings and equipment needed to provide high quality care. The Trust would also have the freedoms to make investments where the local need is highest and according to local priorities.

Will we still receive free treatment?

Yes. NHS Foundation Trust's are still part of the NHS and our top priority would still be to provide NHS services to NHS patients. NHS Foundation Trust's are subject to NHS standards, NHS performance ratings and NHS systems of inspection.

Why does Walsall Healthcare have to change?
As a Foundation Trust we would have more freedom to make sure that local people and the communities we serve have the best services. Our ability to plan for the future would be enhanced and it would be easier to make decisions about new services and improvements to existing ones.

What happens if an NHS Trust performs poorly?
If something seriously goes wrong it would be the responsibility, initially, of the Trust itself to take appropriate remedial action. If the situation continues or becomes more serious the Independent Regulator, called Monitor would have the statutory power to intervene.

What could go wrong?
We would need to continue to manage our money carefully and make sure we could still afford to provide all the services needed to meet the health needs of local people.  We would need to be sure our members were really representing all the local community.  An independent body, called Monitor, has been set up by the government to keep an eye on Foundation Trusts and make sure they are working properly.

Will Foundation Trust treat more private patients?
No. There will be limits on the amount of private work a Foundation Trust can carry out. Foundation Trusts are subject to strict limits on private patient work based on the amount of private work they currently do. Any proposed increase in private patient work above 5% would need to be approved by The Council of Governors.

Will Foundation Trusts be able to pick what services they provide?
No. Foundation Trusts exist to provide NHS services to NHS patients and are required by law to provide essential NHS services. Under the terms of authorisation (similar to a licence), each Foundation Trust has to continue to provide these services to NHS commissioners (CCG's). They are only able to change these protected services if the Independent Regulator supports their proposals.

Will Foundation Trusts lead to privatisation of the NHS?
Absolutely not. It is about shifting power from the centre to local people. NHS Foundation Trusts are set up with a new form of social ownership, with a governing body elected by local people, patients and staff. NHS Foundation Trusts exist to provide NHS services to NHS patients; they are still part of the NHS. There are no shareholders, no dividends and the NHS Foundation Trust is prevented by law from being taken out of the NHS or sold. Many more people than previously will be able to have an influence and say on the shape of NHS services.

Will there be better health care as a consequence of becoming an NHS Foundation Trust?

By having greater financial freedom and by engaging with local people we will be able to invest in developing services for the future and make sure that local people's views influence how we change services.

What is a Private Finance Initiative (PFI)?

A PFI is a Private Finance Initiative and is a contractual agreement between an NHS Trust and private organisation to build and maintain new hospital buildings.  In Walsall the PFI agreement is between Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and The Walsall Hospital Company plc.

How will becoming an NHS Foundation Trust benefit patients and the local population?

Patients and the local population will be able to become involved in commenting on how we plan to change and improve our hospitals.  Decisions will be taken locally which means that we will be more responsive to the needs of our local population.   Local people will have the opportunity to become involved in the running of the Trust, with rights to elect or to become a Governor.

Members' questions

How old do you have to be to become a Member?

The minimum age is 16 and 18 to become a Governor, there is no maximum age.

Is there a charge for becoming a Member?

No, there is no cost involved in joining as a Member, infact we provide you as an incentive the opportunity to join the Health Service Discounts Website were you can enjoy the discounts and offers from a wide range of companies.

Who can become a Member?

Anyone who is 16 and over can become a Member, if they live in our constituency areas.  See diagram on "our proposed Council of Governors"

Our Staff (staff with a contract of 12 months or over automatically become a member unless they choose to opt out - staff who leave the organisation will be given the option to transfer their membership - to the public membership)

What role would I play as a Member and what does it involve:

You can be involved as much or as little as you want and may include:

  • the option of being involved in specific issues in which you have particular interests - this information will be collected following your confirmation of membership
  • the option to attend events
  • the option to help promote the membership through community events and recruitment days
  • the option to take part in consultations about our plans for future healthcare services and hospital facilities
  • You will receive regular communications from the Trust about its activities through "Membership Matters" to keep you up to date with activities, information including progress on our FT application.
  • The option to attend open days and tours to learn more about the Trust and its services
  • You are eligible to vote in elections for the Council of Governors
  • You are eligible to stand for election as a Governor


What commitment is needed to be a Governor?

Walsall Healthcare will hold four meetings of the Council of Governors each year, and of course Board Meeting and the AGM. As a Governor, you will be expected to attend these meetings.  There will also be sub committees and special interest groups that Governors will be expected to be involved in.

Are Governors paid?

No, Governors do not receive payment, but reasonable travelling and other expenses will be paid. 

Does staff pay and conditions remain the same?

Yes, we will still continue to operate under Agenda for Change. Achieving NHS Foundation Trust status will not affect the