2,500 people tell us what they think of our plans for the future

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) is applying to become an NHS Foundation Trust (FT) from December 2012.

An important stage of the FT process was to consult with local residents, patients, carers, staff and key partners on our plans for the future.

The consultation was launched on August 1 and closed on November 4. During that time more than 2,500 people gave their views on our plans – one of the highest recorded numbers of responses to an NHS Foundation Trust consultation.

We visited a significant number and diverse range of community groups, held public meetings across Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset and met with local authorities, the city’s universities and other NHS partners.  

Some of the key responses to the consultation and subsequent changes to our overall vision include:

- 50 percent of respondents disagreed with our original suggestion of having 16 as the minimum age of Governors and as a result we have increased the minimum age to 18.

- We had a mixed response to 16 being the minimum age for members.  65 percent agreed with 33 percent disagreeing and stating that the age should be increased to 18. However, after speaking with community groups and partner organisations, the strong view was that we needed to give young people a voice and we will be working with colleagues in local authorities and Barnardo’s to potentially set up a youth council. The minimum age of members will remain at 16.

- The vast majority of respondents (78 percent) were in favour of the size and composition of the Council of Governors. However, after talking to all three local authorities, they each wanted to have an appointed Governor and it was felt important that each university also has a seat. As a result we have increased the number of seats on the Council of Governors to reflect these views. To ensure that the elected public Governors remain in the majority, we will increase the number of public Governors by 2 and the final Council will now have 23 Governors.   

Ruth Brunt, Chief Executive, said: “The response to our consultation was fantastic. We spoke to a wide range of local people, organisations and staff about our plans and the comments back were extremely useful and a number of things have been changed to reflect these views. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to our proposals.”

A Foundation Trust is still part of the NHS but has greater flexibility in its decision-making and planning of local health services, and is no longer accountable to the Department of Health.

Instead, a Foundation Trust becomes accountable to a membership, which is drawn from the local population it serves. These members are represented by a Council of Governors who hold the Trust Board to account.

To become a Foundation Trust you need to have a large and involved membership and at NBT we’re aiming to have at least 5,000 public members by December 2012, made up of local people, our patients, their carers, staff and partner organisations, to help us build a patient focused and financially healthy organisation.

Membership is a key feature of Foundation Trusts and creates a strong link between members of the public, our staff and local organisations – the people who care most about our hospitals and community services.

As a member you may want to:

- Receive information about our Trust and the work we do

- Attend exclusive members’ events or open days

- Provide your views through questionnaires or surveys

- Be consulted on changes and improvements to health services

- Take part in research groups

- Stand for election as a governor

- Cast your vote in the election of the Board of Governors

You can find out more about becoming a member and read the full consultation response by visiting our webpage www.nbt.nhs.uk/ft or by calling the FT helpline on 0800 731 0319 (freephone).