Community foundation trusts set to go ahead

Community foundation trusts (FTs) have been given the go-ahead by the government and Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS foundation trusts.

Bill Moyes, chairman of Monitor
It means PCTs looking to rid themselves of their provider arms will be able to set them up as foundation trusts to supply services back to commissioners along the same lines as hospitals. It would also mean front-line staff would keep NHS terms and conditions and pension rights.

The DoH had asked Monitor to assess the financial viability of community FTs and whether they could earn enough to make themselves self-sustaining.

Bill Moyes, chairman of Monitor, told the NHS Alliance annual conference in Bournemouth last month, that community foundation trusts worth £30 million and over would be able to exist in the current FT structure, set up for hospitals, without any lowering of standards or benefits.

Very small community foundation trusts were likely to have problems with venture capital and balancing risk, he said.

‘I think we should start the pilots at a level easily manageable by Monitor. We can always let smaller models develop down the track if that’s what patients and the market wants,’ Mr Moyes said.

Andrew Cash, director general for provider development, said that as a result of Monitor’s advice the DoH would run five to 10 community FT pilots over the next year with a view to roll out in 2008.

Mr Cash said he doubted every PCT would set up a community FT, although the 20 to 30 he did expect to be set up would probably be large and would be likely to cover more than one PCT area.

He said other models would compete to provide community services including much larger primary care organisations, acute FTs trying to vertically integrate, or community social enterprises taking over some hospital services for patients with long term conditions.

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