Organizational Form as a Mechanism to Involve Staff, Public and Users in Public Services: A Study of the Governance of NHS Foundation Trusts

Pauline Allen, Jean Townsend, Paul Dempster, John Wright, Andrew Hutchings, Justin Keen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In addition to introducing markets and market-like structures into public services, New Labour wished to promote the involvement of users and the public in decision-making in other ways than as individual consumers. One way was to involve the public in the governance of organizations. This could be done by removing public services from state control, and transferring them to mutual ownership; or by increasing public involvement in the governance of public bodies. NHS foundation trusts (FTs) were presented as mutuals. Our study shows FTs are not mutuals, as they continue to be owned by the state. Moreover, staff of FTs were generally not engaging with the new governance structures. In general, there was mixed experience of the new structures enabling governors to increase accountability of the hospitals to the public. On the other hand, having a membership did enhance the legitimacy of FTs, as opposed to other NHS organizations. The findings of the study are of current interest as the coalition government is continuing with the policy of FTs, and also encouraging mutuals and other forms of public involvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-257
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Policy & Administration
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

Cite this