Our plans to become a Foundation Trust
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children asked the public and its staff about our plans to become an NHS Foundation Trust. This ran from 9 February to 18 June 2010.
As an NHS Foundation Trust we will remain part of the NHS but with more freedom in how we run our affairs.
We will recruit patients, their families, supporters and staff as members of the foundation trust to help us to continue to improve our services and the way we work. By the end of the consultation we had 6,600 members, not including staff.
There was very strong support for our vision as an independent NHS Foundation Trust focused on the needs of children (95.6 per cent strongly supported or supported).
Our plans for the mostly elected Members’ Council which works with the hospital management was also strongly supported (91.7 per cent strongly supported or supported.)
We received over 400 adult responses and around 180 young people’s responses. More than half came from outside London, reflecting our national role.
There was a written document for adults, and two for young people, all available online
We ran four events:
one for young people
- one workshop to get the views of members who had helped us already
- one Saturday public meeting
- one evening public meeting
We also attended 17 meetings of other organisations as a way to meet families and supporters informally. These included:
a drop-in for families with disabled children
- a number of voluntary sector groups around health and racial equalities
- patient support group events
- special schools with links to our Haringey service
- two large fundraising events
We received very positive support from our local Health Scrutiny Committee based at Camden Council.
Listening to staff
The ‘Foundation Trust Ambassadors’ programme involved around 25 staff trained to deliver a presentation to staff, hold a discussion and feed back to the project team.
This involved 21 induction meetings, five Trust wide events and 74 presentations to team meetings, reaching over 1,700 staff.
We emailed information to staff and attached it to their payslips. It was also discussed at a great many unit meetings which have developed our plans on how we hope to expand and what staff we need. As expected, commenting at meetings was the main way staff gave us their views.
Results of consultation in 2010
You supported our vision that we should remain independent within the NHS, and keep our focus on the child and family. If merged with an adult hospital we could lose that focus.
You were very clear that we must continue to improve the safety and quality of services despite financial pressures, and you agreed we should remain a centre of excellence in clinical care, research and education.
We asked about offering Saturday outpatients and elective procedures, and this was very strongly supported by patients, parents, and community and patient organisations. It was felt for many families to be more convenient, and to offer less disruption to education, work and childcare for siblings.
Staff offered mixed views, addressing a variety of practical issues, in particular which services have to be open if additional clinical services are to be available. We are now looking at how we can take this forward.
Working with local hospitals
Many people suggested that we should work more closely with local hospitals. They said that we should provide more training and support for staff in local hospitals, share more information, and make it easier to contact us for advice and support.
We understand why this is important for patients and their families, so we will make it a priority for improvement during the next year.
Those responding generally wanted the Members’ Council to reflect those with experience of the hospital, and to be actively linked in with the people they represent. This is what we wanted.
However, some people seemed to think councillors would have masses of time in the hospital and answering queries from members. We’re concerned this could be too much for councillors, who are unpaid volunteers, and could deter good people from standing. We will use the preparation process to develop the right balance.
We very much feel we can build on the work we are doing with listening to our families.
What adults and young people thought about working with young people
Both adults and young people saw working with our young people as being really important. Adults and young people agreed that we should both use electronic media and informal face to face events.
Having elected young people aged 16 plus on the Members Council was widely supported, but there were concerns that the views of younger patients should not be forgotten.
There are guaranteed places for young people on the Members Council but we didn’t get a clear view about whether we should elect all of them or appoint some, together with people who could speak on their behalf.
Young people were generally very positive about the hospital’s focus on their needs. They were very lively in telling us areas where they want us to improve – around communication, less waiting, a brighter environment, better resources for teenagers and more opportunities for teenagers to get together in hospital.
They were keen we understood they were not babies and small children (who are a large majority of our patients).
There is a separate document giving more detail about what young people said: Young people’s feedback
Honesty and openness
We were told that when we talk to people about our plans – whether to adults, young people or our staff – we need to be honest about what can be achieved.
We were told we have to mean it, to discuss big issues about how we provide services and not just talk about issues like food and beds. The hospital really wants to do this which is why we are placing members on the key committees that improve services and make decisions.
Some patient support groups and charities that run services want to have some more discussion about how they can give their views to the Members’ Council. We welcome this.
To summarise, we got strong and consistent support for our plans. Our existing listening to our families and members was seen as a good start as we seek to become a Foundation Trust in the first half of 2011.
We will need to do more work to make sure our Members Council gets off to a strong start but we are very optimistic it will make a major contribution.
What have we changed as a result of the consultation?
- We know there is strong public interest in Saturday clinics, we need to see how we can best achieve this.
- We have firm proposals now on how young people are represented on the Council and better ideas on how to engage them in future.
- We are clearer how we will need to train and help people on the Members’ Council to do this work, and also, that we should be realistic in how much time they could give.
White Paper on the NHS
The new White Paper on the NHS (July 2010) confirms that all NHS Trusts should become Foundation Trusts, or be merged with Foundation Trusts, within three years.
The White Paper does suggest that we might have more freedom in future on exactly how we organise our membership and Members Council. However, it will be some time before it is clear what this means and we will consider it when we have the full information. We don’t need to wait for this to carry on with our application.
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