Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Democracy in the NHS - participation in Foundation Trusts

The Daily Telegraph isn’t the most objective and non-partisan observer of the recent Foundation Trust (FT) elections – does anyone seriously calculate turnout in terms of total population (including under 18s)? does anyone really believe that everyone will join and participate in FTs, particularly the specialist hospitals?

Nevertheless, there are grounds for concern. FT elections choose the governing bodies that ensure that the FT boards are held accountable so they are important.

Membership figures are low. Public awareness is even lower. The FTs were created as mutual institutions using models found in the co-operative movement – yet, many in the co-operative movements don’t appreciate or understand this.

OK. I confess. I am only now joining my local FT.

The regulator of FTs, Monitor, keeps a register so you can find the contact details of your local FT. I would urge everyone to join and get involved – especially if you care about the NHS and believe that public services should be accountable to their users and communities.

Are the FTs nurturing their memberships and developing their accountability frameworks? There is guidance out there. Are the FTs applying it?

While giving users a choice is vital to ensuring that public services are responsive and effective, it is important that users have a voice and use it so they can be heard alongside professionals, managers and other interests. Voice is especially important in rural areas where the extent of choice is inevitably less wide.

No comments: