Monitor has awarded coveted Foundation Trust status to Nottingham Healthcare and Kent Community Health NHS Trusts, giving more than two and half million people across England a louder voice in running local healthcare services.
Nottinghamshire Healthcare provides a range of services including mental health, intellectual disability and community health to over a million people, and is the trust to provide high security psychiatric services to be awarded FT status.
Kent Community Health NHS Trust is the third community trust to become a FT, and the second largest community trust in England. FT status will allow more leeway to tailor and improve care of patients in their homes and communities, which could reduce the need for patients to go to hospital for treatment, Monitor said.
As Foundation Trusts, which now make up more than 60% of all NHS trusts, both have now broken away from central government control and gained new freedoms that should help better shape services around local needs. This includes being able to keep hold of any surplus cash generated to invest in new services, and borrowing money to support these investments.
However, Monitor's latest quarterly report has revelaed that many are struggling with these new freedoms; in the nine months to December 2014 FT deficit has rocketed to £321 million, five times more than planned, while a massive 78% are currently in the red.
And just days ago it was announced that an investigation found "shortcomings" in the financial management of Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS FT, while earlier in the month Norfolk and Suffolk NHS FT became the first mental health trust to be put into special measures.