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Our Foundation Trust Membership

Are you eligible to be a member?

Public membership is open to anyone over 16 years living in the Bradford Metropolitan District Council area. Members are registered in either: Bradford East, Bradford South, Bradford West, Shipley or Keighley.

Patient membership is open to those aged over 16 who have received treatment from our Foundation Trust and live outside of the metropolitan district area or are the carer of such a patient and act on their behalf.

Staff membership is open to those who hold a permanent contract of employment or have worked for the Foundation Trust for at least 12 months (this includes contract staff and those holding honorary contracts). Staff members are registered in one of the following four groups.

  • Nursing and midwifery
  • Medical and dental
  • Allied health professionals and scientists
  • All other staff (admin and clerical, estates and ancillary, additional clinical services - a few jobs within ‘additional clinical services’ sit within allied health professionals and scientists).

Benefits from membership

Our membership provides a large and diverse group of people to draw from

  • For elections to our council of governors who are there to represent the interests of our Foundation Trust members and the public
  • To consult with on a broad range of issues
  • To draw on to support our public and patient involvement initiatives and activities.

Current opportunities right for involvement

  • Patient and Public Involvement activities to support service development, inspections programmes such as PLACE (patient led assessments of the care environment).
  • If you would like to volunteer at our Foundation Trust you can find out more here.
  • Click here for more information on training and development for young people / work experience opportunities.
Not a member? Join now

Public and Patient Members can also join online here.

Are you already a member?
Do we need your email address?

To keep in touch with you and keep you up-to-date with news from our hospitals we need a valid email address for you. Click here to 'sign up for e-communications' and complete your details.

Q: What if I don't have access to the internet or don't have an email address?
A: Please do not worry. Contact us by phone or post (details at the bottom of the page) and let us know that you will need to receive communications by post.
Q: What if I don't sign up for e-communications and I don't get in touch to receive posted information?
A: You will remain registered as a member and you will still receive ballot papers/voting materials when an election is being held in your membership constituency.

Need to contact us?
Foundation Trust Membership Office
Trust Headquarters
Bradford Royal Infirmary
Duckworth Lane

Telephone: 01274 364794
Email: membership@bthft.nhs.uk

Elections to the council of governors

To find out more about elections click here.

If you are interested in standing as a governor, please register your interest so that we can contact you directly with the nomination forms when a vacancy arises. If you would like an informal chat to find out more, please contact Jacqui Maurice, Head of Corporate Governance, on 01274 382685 or email jacqui.maurice@bthft.nhs.uk.


What are NHS Foundation Trusts?
What is membership?
What is the difference between a director and a governor?
Non-executive directors
Executive directors
The Nolan Principles
What is the governance structure of an NHS Foundation Trust?
NHS Foundation Trust governing documents
NHS Foundation Trust Governance Structure
Chain of accountability in NHS Foundation Trusts
What is the Council of Governors?
Election to the Council of Governors
Board of Directors

What are NHS Foundation Trusts?

NHS Foundation Trusts are public benefit corporations that are authorised, under the 2006 Act, to provide goods and services for the purposes of the health service in England. They are part of the NHS and provide over half of all NHS hospital, mental health and ambulance services. They provide health care in line with the core NHS principles: that care should be universal, comprehensive and free at the point of need

NHS Foundation Trusts were originally created under the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003. They are free from central government control. This means they have the freedom to make their own decisions, including whether to make and invest surpluses, and to manage their own affairs. However, they are subject to statutory requirements and all have a duty to exercise their functions effectively, efficiently and economically.

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What is membership?

The membership of an NHS foundation trust consists of staff members, the general public and, sometimes, patients or service users and/or their carers. Members belong to various constituencies as defined in each trust’s constitution. A trust must have a public constituency and a staff constituency, and may also have a patient, carer and/or service user constituency if the constitution allows for this. Patient, service user and carer constituencies are not compulsory but may help to ensure that the people who use the trust’s services are appropriately represented. Members in the various constituencies vote to elect governors and can also stand for election themselves.

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What is the difference between a director and a governor?

To fulfil their collective responsibility for the exercise of their powers and the performance of the Trust, and to be accountable for both, all executive and non-executive directors of the NHS Foundation Trust must:

  • provide effective and proactive leadership of the Trust within a framework of processes, procedures and controls which enable risk to be assessed and managed;
  • take responsibility for making sure the Trust complies with the conditions of its licence, its constitution, guidance issued by Monitor, relevant statutory requirements and contractual obligations;
  • set the Trust’s strategic aims at least annually (in the forward plan), taking into consideration the views of the council of governors;
  • be responsible for ensuring the quality and safety of health care services, education, training and research delivered by the Trust;
  • ensure that the Trust exercises its functions effectively, efficiently and economically;
  • set the Trust’s vision, values and standards of conduct and ensure the Trust meets its obligations to its members, patients and other stakeholders and communicates them to these people clearly;
  • take decisions objectively in the interests of the Trust;
  • take joint responsibility for every board decision, regardless of their individual skills or status;
  • share accountability as a unitary (single) board; and
  • constructively challenge the decisions of the Board and help develop proposals on priorities, risk mitigation, values, standards and strategy.

Directors are paid for their skills, time and expertise in leading the Trust both strategically and operationally, as well as for taking responsibility for the performance of the Trust and being accountable in the event of failures.

The voluntary role of the governor is entirely different to that of a director. Governors are not expected to undertake the above duties or to be ultimately responsible for the performance of the Trust. The governor’s role includes specific statutory duties, but the board of directors remains ultimately responsible for the Trust’s operations and performance.

The overriding duty of the board of directors is to be collectively and individually responsible for promoting the success of the NHS Foundation Trust so as to maximise the benefits for the members of the NHS Foundation Trust as a whole and for the public. This means the board is focused on providing high-quality health care to the NHS Foundation Trust’s members and the communities it serves.

By way of contrast, the overriding role of the Council of Governors is to hold the non-executive directors, individually and collectively, to account for the performance of the board of directors and to represent the interests of Foundation Trust members and of the public.

The board is therefore responsible for the direction and performance of the Trust, while the council of governors is responsible primarily for assuring the performance of the board.

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The chair is one of the non-executive directors and undertakes a dual role as chair of the board of directors and chair of the council of governors. This means that the chair is responsible for leading both the board and council and for ensuring that they work together effectively. The chair is also responsible for making sure that the board and council receive accurate, timely and clear information that is appropriate for their respective duties. The dual role of the chair enables clear communication between the board of directors and council of governors.

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Non-executive directors

The non-executive directors are particularly responsible for challenging the executive directors in decision-making and on the trust’s strategy, but they are collectively accountable with the executive directors for the exercise of their powers and for the performance of the trust. Unlike the executive directors, they do not have a managerial role.

The non-executive directors will include the chair. A person may only be appointed as a non-executive director if he or she is a member of the public constituency (or the patients’/service users’/carers’ constituency where there is one). Where the trust has a university medical or dental school, a person may be appointed as a non-executive director if he or she exercises functions for that university or school.

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Executive directors

The executive directors are paid employees of the trust. They are responsible in their executive role for managing the organisation and, as board members, for the leadership and direction of the trust. This managerial role distinguishes the executive directors from the non-executive directors, who do not have a managerial role.

The executive directors must include a chief executive (who is also the accounting officer) and a finance director. In addition, one of the executive directors must be a registered medical practitioner or a registered dentist, and one must be a registered nurse or a registered midwife. The executive directors will each have particular responsibility for a specific function, but are all also collectively accountable for exercising the powers of the trust and for its performance

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The Nolan Principles

All holders of public office should adhere to the principles of public life defined by the Nolan Committee. The committee sets out the principles for the benefit of all who serve the public in any way, so they also apply to NHS foundation trust governors. The seven principles are

1. Selflessness;

2. Integrity;

3. Objectivity;

4. Accountability;

5. Openness;

6. Honesty; and

7. Leadership.

For further information see the Public Standards website.

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What is the governance structure of an NHS Foundation Trust?

Each NHS Foundation Trust has its own governance structure, set out in its Constitution.

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NHS Foundation Trust governing documents

NHS Foundation Trust Constitutions

Every NHS Foundation Trust has its own constitution which defines how the Trust’s governance operates. Changes to the Trust’s constitution can take effect only if the amendments are approved by more than half of the members of the board of directors of the Trust voting and more than half of the members of the council of governors of the Trust voting.

NHS foundation trust code of governance

In addition to the formal statutory requirements, Monitor (the independent regulator) has issued good practice advice on governance in The NHS Foundation Trust Code of Governance (Code of Governance). The Code of Governance operates on a “comply or explain” basis, meaning that NHS Foundation Trusts must either comply with its requirements or explain why they have not.

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NHS Foundation Trust governance structure

The basic governance structure of all NHS Foundation Trusts includes:

  • membership;
  • council of governors; and
  • board of directors.

In addition to this basic structure, Trusts also make use of board committees (usually comprising directors only) and working groups, some of which may comprise both governors and directors or governors only, as a practical way of dealing with specific issues. Some board committees (appointments, audit and remuneration) are required by legislation and others may vary between Trusts.

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What is the Council of Governors

The concept of an NHS Foundation Trust rests on local accountability, which governors perform a pivotal role in providing. The council of governors, collectively, is the body that binds a trust to its patients, service users, staff and stakeholders. It consists of elected members and appointed individuals who represent members and other stakeholder organisations. The 2006 and 2012 Acts set out governors’ various statutory responsibilities.

Governors are unpaid and contribute part-time on behalf of the trust that they represent. They are not directors and should not seek to act in a directorial capacity as their role is very different.

The chair of the board of directors is also the chair of the council of governors. This is a legal requirement.

The 2012 Act adopts the term ‘council of governors’ from 1 October 2012 onwards, but other terms are acceptable. Alternatives used by some trusts include:

  • governors’ council;
  • membership council;
  • members’ council; or
  • governors’ body.

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Election to the council of governors

There are different categories of governors, which vary by the types of trust members that they represent.

The members of the council of governors, other than the appointed governors, must be elected. The rules and regulations that set out how elections for membership of the council of governors are conducted must be adhered to and these form part of the foundation trusts constitution.

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Board of directors

An NHS foundation trust’s board of directors is responsible for all aspects of the operation and performance of the trust, and for its effective governance. This includes setting the corporate strategy and organisational culture, taking those decisions reserved for the board, and being accountable to stakeholders for those decisions. The board of directors is collectively responsible for taking actions which legally bind the trust.

All the powers of the NHS foundation trust can be exercised by the board of directors on its behalf. The board of directors must include executive and non-executive directors, and the Code of Governance requires that a majority of the board of directors are independent non-executive directors.

There is a general duty on the directors to promote the success of the NHS foundation trust so as to maximise the benefits for the members of the trust as a whole, and for the public. All members of the board of directors have collective responsibility as a unitary board for every decision of the board, regardless of their individual skills or status. Non-executive directors and executive directors alike share the same degree of accountability. All directors have a responsibility to challenge constructively the information and proposals made to the board, but non-executive directors have a particular duty to challenge executive directors and should scrutinise their performance accordingly.

The board of directors is also responsible for establishing the values and standards of conduct for the trust and its staff in accordance with NHS values and accepted standards of behaviour in public life, including the Nolan Principles.