NHS foundation trusts may be waste of money

Foundation trusts perform no better financially than other NHS trusts, research has found.

An analysis of financial performance by the University of York’s Centre for Health Economics found ‘no change in the relative performance of foundation trusts relative to non-foundation trusts’.

As a result, the estimated £25m cost of setting up governance arrangements for foundation trusts may have been unjustified, it said.

The analysis looks at budget surplus and 'reference cost index' scores – a measure of efficiency.

Non-foundation trusts have closed the gap on foundation trusts by increasing their surpluses and improving their efficiency in the years since 2007/8, the report said.

Pressure on hospitals to cut waiting times has also cut the gap between the two types of trust. The researchers found that some gaps remained in performance between foundation trusts and non-foundation trusts, but these were often historical, and not attributable to the foundation trust policy.

However, the report said: ‘Despite not being able to identify a substantial positive 'foundation trust effect' our analysis certainly does not suggest that foundation trusts are doing any worse than non-foundation trusts.’

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