Dr Jocelyn Foster, Foundation Trust Project Director, Leicestershrie Partnership NHS Trust (LPT), submits a briefing note outlining the background to, and timetable for, the LPT’s application for foundation status.
Prof. Antony Sheehan, Chief Executive of the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT), attended the meeting to outline the background to, and the timetable for, the LPT’s application for foundation status. A briefing note was circulated with the Agenda papers.
Prof. Sheehan stated that there were four good reasons for the LPT to become a Foundation Trust: -
i) Financial flexibility to utilise funding more strategically
ii) Would be examined explicitly on programmes and procedures
iii) Benefit of membership based organisation. Members would have say as to what was done
iv) Survival as an organisation.
Prof. Sheehan stated that he wanted to have a locally run service. Should LPT not pursue the option of foundation status then it would be vulnerable to a takeover and then likely to be run from elsewhere in the country. As a foundation trust the trust would be a partnership and, if the trust bid was successful, the LPT would become a foundation trust in 2009.
Reference was made by the Committee to the ‘Members and Governance ‘ section of the briefing note (para.4b), and whether candidates were being sought at this stage to sit on the Council of Governance as it was felt that there was a need to establish first that each local authority would be left to determine whether their member was an elected member or an officer.
A further question from Members related to a recent press article that referred to companies that leased equipment to Health Trusts and who had expressed concerns should Trusts become insolvent.
Prof. Sheehan stated that his view of the process was that it would allow the LPT to be more transparent and more accountable to the public. Regarding Members and Governance the LPT were looking to agree the principle of the arrangements but wanted to ensure that local authorities were comfortable with the arrangements and it was envisaged that the local authorities would select their representative.
Prof. Sheehan further stated that the accounts of the LPT were currently being scrutinised and these would be shared. LPT was an asset-based organisation and details of the assets held would also be shared. Members of the Committee expressed a desire to share the plans of the proposed consultation planned by the LPT, utilising experience gained in local government. Prof. Sheehan welcomed this request.
Prof. Sheehan stated that, regarding leased equipment, this might be an issue for LPT, but was less of an issue than in some other trusts. LPT would need to monitor their leasing contracts and assess risks.
For clarification it was stated that, in response to a question regarding increasing elected member representation from local authorities, that the public membership of the Council of Governance would also have to be increased to maintain the required public membership majority. Members accepted that to increase the membership of the Council of Governors beyond a certain level would make it unwieldy.
Members questioned how the transition to foundation trust status would affect the partnership between service users and carers of the mental health provision.
Prof. Sheehan stated that the mental health system locally had recently been engaging with sectors of the community but it was to be hoped that under foundation trust arrangements this engagement process could be bettered.
It was stated that by the time LPT went out to consultation in April 2008 it was likely that a draft Constitution would be available, setting out arrangements for the proposed Council of Goverance, and it was questioned whether it would be desirable to establish a position regarding local authority representation at this meeting. Following further discussion it was accepted that before a decision regarding representation on the Council of Governance could be taken, a draft of the relevant section of the Constitution would need to be available. Prof. Sheehan stated that details around the Constitution for the foundation trust were still being worked up but that copies of the principles of the proposals relating to the content of the Constitution could quite quickly be made available for Members to consider. Members welcomed this proposal and it was stated that a response to the proposals could be made available to LPT from this Committee within four weeks of their receipt.
that the opportunity to comment on the principles of the proposals relating to the content of the Constitution of the foundation trust be welcomed.