Foundation Trust - no longer the only mark of quality

Published: 11 September 2015

Since the reshuffle of the NHS and introduction of the Foundation Trust, there has been an understanding that Foundation Trust status is what every Trust should aspire to. However, recently the quality and stability of Foundation Trusts are being questioned. So is a Foundation Trust still the benchmark of success?

With 33 Foundation Trusts rated “inadequate” and “requires improvement” by the Care Quality Commission and 9 non-Foundation Trusts awarded highly by the CQC, what does this mean for the future of the Foundation Trust status?

In an article by the HSJ, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said “the mark of quality for an NHS provider is no longer FT status, but award of “good” or “outstanding” rating by the CQC Commission”. Mr Hunt has suggested his desire to make CQC ratings the “single definition of success” with potential changes in law to give non-Foundation Trusts the freedom traditionally only granted to a Foundation Trust.

With the recent creation of NHS Improvement through the merger of Foundation Trust regulator Monitor with the Trust Development Authority and the current status of the Foundation Trust, the question is, how can candidates benchmark the best organisations to work at, and what do employees now base their next role on?

Employees will need to start looking away from the idea that a Foundation Trust equals high quality. With so many recent changes to the regulators of the Foundation Trusts, career decisions can no longer be made on quality and reputation alone. While quality, financial stability and staff turnover will still play an important part in the decision making process, employees now need to gain greater understanding the organisation’s vision, values and plans as well. With more NHS Trusts investing in values based recruitment a focus on cultural fit is becoming more common. By benchmarking quality on the Foundation Trust tag alone great opportunities could well be missed.

Helen Childs is a Consultant in the Healthcare Practice of Berwick Partners

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