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Expanding foundation trust sector delivering real benefits to patients, says Monitor

Transparent and robust regulation is helping the rapidly-expanding foundation trust sector deliver significant benefits to patients, Dr William Moyes, Executive Chairman of Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts said today.

Writing in Monitor’s annual report, published today, he said there was “increasing evidence” that NHS foundation trusts were offering better-quality, more-responsive services than non-foundation trusts.

“Although NHS foundation trusts were a controversial aspect of the Government reform agenda for health, we believe the concept is increasingly accepted as the benefits to patients become more and more apparent.”

Dr Moyes said foundation trusts enjoyed their most successful year in 2006-07 with most now generating the surpluses needed to invest in improving and expanding patient services.

He added there was “clear evidence” of Monitor’s light-touch but robust regulatory regime assisting that development. And it was therefore essential that Government proposals for statutory registration operated by the proposed new regulator Ofcare did not result in confusion, duplication or undue bureaucracy.

He said:

“Our main concerns are to ensure clear roles for Monitor and the new regulator that preserve the effective accountability arrangements that currently exist for NHS foundation trusts, and to promote the development of well-specified outcome-based standards for registration.

“We are concerned that poorly specified or unnecessarily operational standards would lead to registration simply adding costs and bureaucracy for no real benefit to patients.”

Dr Moyes said he remained concerned by the high failure rate among trusts attempting to achieve foundation trust status, which threatened the scheduled expansion of the sector. This meant some patients were not experiencing the potential benefits associated with foundation trust status as quickly as they might.

“Almost one in three applicants are still not sufficiently prepared to be suitable for authorisation at the first attempt,” he said.

Dr Moyes said the challenge now was to sustain and build on the momentum achieved by this element of the Government’s health reforms.

Notes to Editors

1. For media enquiries contact: Michael Moruzzi on 020 7340 2438 or 0779 5962933.

2. Monitor’s Annual Report 2006-07 is available to download from the publications section of our website:  

3. Monitor authorises and regulates NHS foundation trusts ensuring they are well-managed and financially strong in order to deliver high quality healthcare for patients.

4. Monitor was established in January 2004. It is independent of government and accountable to Parliament. Monitor’s functions and powers are set out in the National Health Service Act 2006.