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 healthcare 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.