NEAS celebrates foundation trust status

NEAS becomes 140th foundation trust

The North East Ambulance Service is delighted to announce that it has become only the third ambulance trust in England to become an NHS foundation trust. This follows an intensive period of assessment by the health regulator, Monitor.

The change in status means local people will have a greater influence over how NEAS operates in the future.

NEAS began the application process three and a half years ago. There are now 140 NHS foundation trusts

Simon Featherstone, Chief Executive, said, "I believe that as an NHS foundation trust we will be able to work more closely with members of the public in our area, reflecting their needs in the development of our services, ensuring that health care is timely and effective and making a major contribution to the wellbeing of people in our community.

"We will have more freedom to look for better ways of meeting our own patients' particular needs and priorities however we will be closely regulated by Monitor to make sure we continue to meet performance and other NHS standards whilst maintaining the excellent quality of care to our patients."

As a foundation trust, NEAS has recruited more than 7,500 foundation trust members across the North East. The views and opinions of these members will be made known at future board meetings, through a Council of Governors, and will play a prominent role in any future decision making.

Tony Dell, Chairman of NEAS, said: "This is an incredible achievement and a credit to all the hard work and effort that everyone has made on this journey."

Chris Harrison, Director of Workforce and Organisation Development at NEAS, said: "The assessment process is a rigorous one and only the best NHS organisations become foundation trusts. Through everyone's endeavours we have demonstrated that we are worthy of this status by being legally constituted, financially sustainable, well-governed and locally representative."

Health Minister Simon Burns said: "I am delighted that the North East Ambulance Service has achieved foundation status, bringing the total number of NHS foundation trusts to 140.  These trusts have successfully demonstrated that they have the capacity and capability to operate effectively as an independent organisation on a permanent basis.

"Foundation trusts enjoy greater freedom from day-to-day central controls and the benefits this brings, such as the ability to innovate new ways of delivering health services.

"The local community in the North East will now have a greater say in how their local NHS service is delivered through a locally elected board of governors."

Decisions on authorisations of foundation trusts are strictly a matter for Monitor as the authorisation process is entirely independent of Ministers and the Department of Health.

NEAS will benefit from a variety of new freedoms:

 •             NHS foundation trusts are free from central government control and are able to decide how to improve their services;

•             NHS foundation trusts retain any surpluses they generate to invest in new services, and can borrow money to support these investments; and

•             NHS foundation trusts are accountable to their local communities; local people can become members and governors.

 

These freedoms mean NHS foundation trusts can better shape their healthcare services around local needs and priorities and the requirements of their primary care trusts.

Under proposals in the current Health and Social Care Bill all remaining eight ambulance trusts will aim to become a foundation trust, or form part of one, by April 2014. 

Commenting on the authorisation, Stephen Hay, Monitor's Chief Operating Officer said:

"To become a foundation trust, the organisation - whether ambulance, acute, mental health or community trust - must be able to demonstrate that it is financially robust and that it has strong governance, both in terms of quality and finances.  In Monitor's view, these are standards that all providers of NHS care should be expected to meet."

"We are committed to seeing all trusts capable of becoming foundation trusts, including ambulance and community trusts, come forward to Monitor for assessment, and will be working with the Department of Health to help it achieve this. Our priority is to ensure that our assessment standards remain high and consistent throughout the drive to ensure all eligible trusts reach foundation trust status."

 

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