Frequently asked questions

What is a Foundation Trust?

An NHS Foundation Trust is a Trust that has been able to move out of central Government control in order to provide services that better meet the needs of local people. They are still part of the NHS but are not restricted to using only Government funds. Now we have become an NHS Foundation Trust we are able to raise money on the open market. This money could be used for changing and improving services. An important part of being an NHS Foundation Trust is that we have real involvement and support from the local community. This can be achieved by people becoming Foundation Trust Members and through the Council of Governors.

Three key differences from existing NHS Trusts are:

  • NHS Foundation Trusts have new freedoms to decide locally how to meet their obligations
  • They are accountable to local people, Members and Governors
  • They are authorised and monitored by the Independent Regulator (Monitor) for NHS Foundation Trusts, and not by the Department of Health.

Is this privatisation of the NHS?

No. As an NHS Foundation Trust we will still remain part of the NHS, providing services free at the point of delivery.

Under NHS Foundation Trust status are be able to pick what services you provide?

NHS Foundation Trust status means we will continue to provide NHS services to NHS patients. We have a legal responsibility that essential services are still available.

GPs and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) commission services from The Dudley Group on behalf of their patients and, it is the CCGs’ responsibility to ensure that the local patient population has access to essential services. If we have services that are not clinically or financially viable then they could be withdrawn but, this would not be done without the agreement of at least three quarters of the Council of Governors and then only after consultation with and permission from Monitor.

Will there be better health care as a consequence of becoming an NHS Foundation Trust?

By having greater financial freedom and by engaging with local people we will be able to invest in developing services for the future and make sure that local people’s views influence how we change services.

What is a Private Finance Initiative (PFI)?

A PFI is a Private Finance Initiative and is a contractual agreement between an NHS Trust and private organisation to build and maintain new hospital buildings. In Dudley the PFI agreement is between The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and Summit Healthcare (Dudley) Ltd. Summit Healthcare is made up of three partner organisations, Siemens Healthcare Services, Interserve Facilities Management and Sunlight Laundries. These provide the following services to the Trust: IT support, laundry and linen services, catering, cleaning, medical engineering, telecommunications,estates, portering, residences, site management including car parking and security, sterile services, transport and waste management.

Members’ questions

How old do you have to be to become a Member?

The minimum age is 14 for The Dudley Group, and 16 to become a Governor, there is no maximum age.

Is there a charge for becoming a Member?

No, there is no cost involved in joining as a Member.

Who can become a Member?

  • Staff of our partner organisations who work with us, on our hospital sites.
  • Anyone who is 14 and over can become a Member, if they live in our constituency areas. (see link for constituencies area map)
  • Our Staff (The Dudley Group staff are automatically a member unless they choose not to be

What role would I play as a Member?

  • You have the option of being involved in specific issues in which you have particular interests
  • You will be consulted about our plans for future healthcare services and hospital facilities
  • You will receive regular communications from the Trust about its activities
  • You will be invited to open days, events and tours to learn more about the Trust and its services
  • You are eligible to vote in elections for the Council of Governors
  • You are eligible to stand for election as a Governor

What does becoming a Member involve?

Passive

  • Receives regular Members’ Bulletins and keeps up to date with activities
  • Takes part in elections for Governors (unless you advise us otherwise)

Active

  • Receives regular Members’ Bulletins and keeps up to date with activities
  • Participates in members’ events
  • Promotes the benefits of being a member within the broader community
  • Takes part in elections for Governors
  • Stand for election as a Governor
  • Represents the interests and views of members
  • Promotes the work of the Trust across the community to help continue to raise awareness of services and performance, helping to influence patients when making hospital choices

As part of the Council of Governors

  • Holds the Non Executive Directors, individually and collectively, to account for the performance of the Board of Directors
  • Approves the appointment of the Trust Chief Executive
  • Appoints or removes Chair and Non Executive Directors
  • Be consulted on plans for significant service development
  • Appoints Trust auditors
  • Receives annual accounts at an Annual Members’ Meeting

Governors’ questions

How do you become a Governor?

Members can stand as a Governor and can be elected by fellow members from the constituency in which they live or staff category in which they work.

How many Governors are there?

There are 25 elected and appointed Governors.

How does the Council of Governors work?

Our Foundation Trust is committed to supporting communication between members of the Trust and their Governors. We facilitate this through the Foundation Trust Office in the first instance. Members can contact their Governor through a dedicated Foundation Trust telephone number and via e-mail. The Foundation Trust office also supports Governors’ communication with the membership using the in-house magazine, Your Trust.

What commitment is needed to be a Governor?

The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust holds four meetings of the Council of Governors each year. As a Governor, you will be expected to attend these meetings, which are also be open to Members and the general public. We will set the dates of meetings for the year ahead, and circulate this information widely through the Trust website and newsletter publications to Members.  Governors are also asked to serve on sub committees of the Council that meet between four and six times each year.

Are Governors paid?

No, Governors do not receive payment, but reasonable travelling and other expenses will be paid. These could include caring costs. Rates of reimbursement will be published in the Foundation Trust Annual Report.