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Answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding NHS Foundation Trusts. Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust was authorised as a Foundation Trust on 1 April 2016.


What are NHS Foundation Trusts?

Foundation Trusts are membership organisations free from central government control. They provide and develop healthcare according to core NHS principles – free care, based on need and not ability to pay.

What makes NHS Foundation Trusts different from standard NHS trusts?

NHS Foundation Trusts have greater freedom to decide, with their governors and members, their own strategy and the way services are run.

If NHS Foundation Trusts make a surplus they can invest this to improve services.  At present, if the trust makes more money than it spends, the surplus can be taken back by the NHS. NHS Foundation Trusts also have more freedom to borrow for capital projects, for example, to invest in new, innovative services. 

They are accountable to:

  • their local communities through their members and governors
  • their commissioners through contracts
  • parliament (each NHS Foundation Trust must lay its annual report and accounts before Parliament)
  • the Care Quality Commission (CQC) through the legal requirement to register and meet the associated standards for the quality of care provided
  • Their role as regulator is to ensure that NHS Foundation Trusts are well-led, that their leaders are focused on the quality of care patients receive and that they are financially strong

NHS Foundation Trusts have to deliver on national targets and standards like the rest of the NHS but they are free to decide how they achieve this.

Are NHS Foundation Trusts outside the NHS?

No. NHS Foundation Trusts are part of the NHS and are committed to its core principles of treating NHS patients according to clinical need, free at the point of delivery.

In general, NHS Foundation Trusts continue to work collaboratively with other NHS partners and their members, which is in the best interests of patients and the local communities we serve. This is certainly our intention going forward.

NHS Foundation Trusts remain part of the public service and have been set up as not-for-profit, public benefit corporations.

Who runs the NHS Foundation Trust?

The board of directors run the day-to-day operations of the Trust. In addition, a Council of Governors will be set up and will consist of elected members of the public, service users, carers, staff and appointed people from local organisations such as NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), local councils and voluntary services.

The Council of Governors will represent the interests of the local community through our members. They will be involved in deciding the strategic direction and development of the Trust. They are not involved in the day-to-day operational matters.

What does membership mean?

As an NHS Foundation Trust, we recruit a representative membership based on the population we serve. Our membership elect representatives to form the Council of Governors.

We see members as ambassadors for the Trust. Members will contribute to how we develop and deliver high quality, value for money, safe, effective and efficient services to the communities we serve.

Who is eligible for membership?

Membership is free. Members will be drawn from our staff; patients and people who live in West Sussex, Brighton & Hove and nearby. Complete our short membership form online.

Staff membership is available to all staff that have been employed by the trust under a contract of employment which has no fixed term or has a fixed term of at least 12 months; or have been continuously employed by the trust for at least 12 months.

People working within our services but not meeting the above criteria i.e. bank staff and volunteers, are strongly encouraged to join as a public member.

Staff will automatically be added as a staff member. Staff can opt-out of staff membership by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Public membership is available to people  who live in West Sussex, Brighton & Hove and nearby. For those patients who live outside of West Sussex and Brighton & Hove they will be able to join as a member under our ‘Out of Area' constituency.

Can I become a member of more than one Trust?

Yes, you can join as many Trusts as a member as you wish. However, you can only be a governor for one Trust.

What will the arrangements be for representing the interests of young people?

Membership is  open to anyone aged 12 or above.

We ensure that we specifically capture the views of our younger members agreed between 12 to 15 years.

We require the consent of a parent/guardian for members aged 12-15.

What does it mean for staff?

Our staff are our greatest asset and it is essential that they play a major role in shaping our future. Without effective, well-trained and committed staff we cannot provide safe and quality-focused services. 

Staff will gain new involvement in developing our strategy through staff membership. We want to consult staff in what we want to achieve, together with our members, patients and partners.

What benefits will staff get from membership and what benefits will the trust get in return?

Staff membership offers the following benefits:

  • broad representation of the communities we serve will help us to better understand their needs and we will be able to respond more effectively
  • the Trust already seeks to involve, value and develop our staff, who are committed to the organisation and its values.  We believe staff membership, by offering greater involvement in our strategic direction and purpose, will reinforce this sense of staff ownership
What is the role of the Council of Governors?

The Council of Governors has various statutory duties e.g. appointing the Chair and other Non-Executive Directors, approving the appointment of the Chief Executive, receiving accounts and appointing auditors.

The Council of Governors:

  • works with the Trust board and advises on our strategy and priorities, to make sure that we are focusing on what's important for our patients and their families
  • helps us get our members involved in the work of the Trust, to ensure needs of the local community are met and to have a vibrant and engaged membership
  • hold the board to account regarding our performance, by making sure that we do what we say we will do
  • the key role will be to reflect and involve the users of our services and their families with the aim to improve their experience. They will be a critical friend and a guardian of our values and purpose
  • young people will need to be over the age of 16 to be elected to the Council of Governors. The Council of Governors will work with the board of directors. In this way, the Council of Governors plays a key role to help set our direction, ensure we deliver NHS care to a high standard and act in a way that is consistent with rules and procedures laid down by Monitor
Who are the Trust's board of directors and what do they do?

The board of directors are responsible for the day-to-day running of the NHS Foundation Trust. Currently, the board consists of seven executives (Chief Executive, Executive Director of Operations, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, Chief Nurse, Executive Medical Director, Executive Director of Finance, Facilities and Estates) and six Non-Executive Directors (the Chair and five others).

The Chair and Non-Executive Directors are appointed for a term of four years. They can serve two terms.

How will the Council of Governors be made up?

The Council of Governors will be made up of elected and appointed governors.

Elective Governors will be elected by the public and staff from their respective constituencies.

Appointed Governors will come from some of our partner organisations, such as local councils and the local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

In total, the Council of Governors will be made up of 23 Governors:

  • twelve people elected by the public constituency including one from ‘Out of Area'
  • five from the staff constituency
  • six appointed by partner organisations
What do I need to be aware of if I'm considering to be elected as a governor?

Elected governors will be appointed for a period of three years at a time and can serve up to six years in total.

The minimum age for governors is 16 years.

What are the legal exclusions?

To consent to nomination and agree to stand for election to the council of governors it is necessary to declare that you are not:

  • a person who has been adjudged bankrupt or whose estate has been sequestrated and (in either case) has not been discharged
  • a person who has made a composition or arrangement with, or granted a trust deed for, his creditors and has not been discharged in respect of it
  • a person who within the preceding five years has been convicted in the British Islands of any offence if a sentence of imprisonment (whether suspended or not) for a period of not less than three months (without the option of a fine) was imposed on him
  • excluded by any other provision detailed within the trusts constitution. A copy of the constitution can be downloaded here (for website only)
  • If governors are likely to have direct access to children in the course of their role, we will carry out necessary checks to ensure that they are not at risk to children

Contact our Membership Team

Phone: 01273 696 011 ext. 3115

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Page last reviewed: 25 March 2024
Next review due: 25 September 2024