Oxford University Hospitals granted foundation trust status

Monitor, the regulator of of NHS Services in England, has awarded Oxford University Hospitals with foundation trust status after a thorough examination of the hospital’s qual- ity of care, finances, governance and performance against national standards.

This included scrutiny by the NHS Trust Development Authority as well as the Care Quality Commission giving Oxford University Hospitals an overall rating of ‘Good’ in May last year.

John Radcliffe, Churchill, Horton, and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre are now free from central government control and able to decide how to improve their services.

The foundation trust also allows the hospi- tals to retain any surpluses they generate to invest in new services and borrow money to support these investments.

They are now accountable to their local communities, and students and locals will be allowed to have more of a say in the way their hospital is run, through a Council of Governors. This includes both elected and ap- pointed public and staff governors, who will play an important role in holding the Board to account.

Sir Jonathan Michael, the recently retired Chief Executive of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, told Cherwell, “The work we have done to become a foundation trust has involved a journey of improvement that needed to happen anyway. Foun- dation trust status has been a stimulus to us to pursue this improvement but was not a destination in itself.

“Becoming a foundation trust is recognition of the work we have done to improve the quality and efficiency of our services for patients and the capability we have to continue these improvements. It also provides more local accountability through our membership and Council of Governors.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank our fantastic staff for their continued commitment to delivering high quality healthcare for all our patients. We recognise that becoming a foundation trust does not in itself solve the challenges facing us or the NHS nationwide. We will continue to focus on sustaining delivering safe and high quality care, living within our means and meeting national standards in a very difficult financial climate.”

Dame Fiona Caldicott, Chairman of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, highlighted the benefits the change will make to services, stating, “Being a Foundation Trust will enable us to continue to improve our services by increasing the involvement of patients, staff and the local communities that we serve through our membership. It means that our Council of Governors will now play an important role in holding the Board of Di- rectors to account, appointing non-executive Directors and contributing to the strategic direction of the Trust.

“This is a most exciting event for the Trust and a vote of confidence in the achievements and capability of our staff.”

Since being granted the foundation trust status, Oxford University Hospi- tals has been named Digital Hospital of the Year. The Trust administers over 20,000 drugs every day electronically and medicine requests can be made online.

Patient information can be stored, diagnostic tests can be ordered and doctors can view results electronically. This implementation of an electronic patient record is seen to be one of the most advanced systems in the NHS and is used by more than 8,000 members of staff every day.

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Dr Paul Altmann, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Chief Clinical Information Officer, commented, “Being awarded Digital Hospital of the Year is recognition of all the hard work that has been going on across the Trust. We implemented a number of solutions over the past few years to improve our digital strategy, including plans to take paper out of the system, improve clinical deci- sion support and make use of the rich sources of information to further transform care.

“We have advanced plans to continue to innovate and deliver a digital platform to be used to improve clinical performance, change models of care and manage care in ways which are not possible on paper.”

Jessica Prince, a second-year medic at St John’s College, told
Cherwell, “This is fantastic news as it recognises the Trust’s achievements establishing fully digital hospitals by making all patients’ medical history and care requirements available on the Trust’s electronic patient record (EPR) system.”

“Having the EPR system will enable doctors to access important patient information at all hospitals that are part of the trust. This will make diagnoses a much easier, stress-free experience for both the doctor and patient as well as helping to improve accurate recording. I am excited to see the efforts taken by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust be implemented in other hospitals.”