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Mental health bosses are hoping to take over the power to run services locally as a Foundation Trust. The North Cumbria Mental Health & Learning Disabilities NHS Trust is moving ahead with its application. NHS Foundation Trusts are “independent public benefit corporations, modelled on co-operative and mutual traditions”. It means that whilst remaining part of the NHS, power is devolved to locally run services with the freedom to innovate and improve care for patients. Local people, service users, carers and staff become ‘members’ and governors of the trust and have a real say in the running of their local services.

NHS Foundation Trusts are different from existing NHS Trusts in three ways:
– They have new freedom to decide locally how to meet their obligations
– They are accountable to local people, who will become members and governors
– They are authorised and monitored by the Independent Regulator for NHS Foundation Trusts.

The Trust began 12 weeks of public consultation on Monday, July 24 and gives people an opportunity to find out more about Foundation Trust status and how it should benefit them. The consultation document explains how the new Trust will work and how local people will be involved.

A number of public events will be taking place during August and September around the county.

Following the public consultation, a formal application will be made to the Secretary of State who will approve or decline the application.

If approved, the application will then go to Monitor (independent regulator) for assessment. A final decision is due in Spring 2007.