THE NHS trust which runs Worthing and Southlands hospitals has received the highest level of recognition.
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, which also runs St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester, has been named as a Foundation Trust – the first acute trust in Sussex to be awarded the status.
The formal change of status will take place on July 1, which will mark the culmination of a three-year process to demonstrate to independent Foundation Trust regulator Monitor and the Department of Health that the trust is worthy of being given new freedoms.
Trust spokesman Nick Brooks said: “Becoming a Foundation Trust has grown increasingly hard in recent years, as the standards demanded for approval have grown more stringent – across the country, only one other acute trust has been granted the elite ‘FT status’ in the last 14 months.
“Foundation Trusts enjoy greater independence from Whitehall control, are allowed the freedom to retain and invest any financial surpluses into local patient services, and are run more democratically, with the direct involvement of people living in West Sussex and the surrounding areas.”
The trust’s chief executive, Marianne Griffiths, praised staff for their efforts and hard work.
“I have always known that the staff in our hospitals strive to give their patients the very best possible care, and now this award shows everyone just how good they are,” she said.
“Becoming a Foundation Trust today is extraordinarily hard, and so I hope that local people can take comfort, and pride, from the fact that hospital services have been recognised as among the very best.
“For the last three years, there has been a rigorous examination of every single aspect of the work our staff do, and Monitor has concluded that our services are excellent, they are safe, they are efficient and they are sustainable.
“It is the biggest vote of confidence we could receive.”
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust was formed in April, 2009, bringing together two trusts facing uncertain futures.
Trust Chairman Mike Viggers said: “It is a major achievement to become a Foundation Trust, but even more so when you think where this trust was just four years ago – there was the real prospect that either Worthing or St Richard’s hospital would be downgraded, and the financial situation was really tough.
“The staff have been fantastic. Thanks to them, we have come through the upheaval of merger, continually improved patient care, and made services safer even at times of great pressure.
“Gaining Foundation Trust status shows local people just how good this trust is, but I hope our staff also see it as well-deserved recognition for their skill and commitment.”
All Foundation Trusts have a public membership, and the trust already has approximately 7,500 members. Anyone interested in joining should call Rachel Morris, on 01903 285140, or email firstname.lastname@example.org