The Foundation Trust Network has decided to split from the NHS Confederation.

Confederation members are being emailed today about the change, which is due to take effect from April.

It will see foundation trusts continuing to be members of the confederation for the first year so that the two organisations can work together.

Sue Slipman will continue to lead the network. Ms Slipman was last year suspended from the confederation, and then reinstated, after raising the possibility of independence for the network.

The decision follows weeks of consultation, in which 71 per cent of Foundation Trust Network member organisations responded. Seventy eight per cent of those said they wanted the network to become independent while continuing to work closely in partnership with the confederation and its other networks. 

The response received means more than half of the network’s member organisations voiced their support for the proposal.

The news comes on the day that the confederation has advertised for a chief executive to take over from Nigel Edwards, who is carrying out the role on an interim basis.

Foundation trust network chairman Peter Griffiths said: “FTN members have indicated they want to become an independent organisation, working closely with the NHS Confederation and its member networks. We are entering a new era in healthcare with changes to the landscape in which all health organisations operate. The future plans give full endorsement to foundation trusts as the future for public healthcare provision.

“Foundation Trust Network members have chosen to become an independent entity, in order to provide the sector with the strong voice it needs to take on the opportunities and challenges ahead.

“We see the future role for the FTN as one of independence, acting unequivocally on behalf of foundation trusts, and interdependence, working closely with the NHS Confederation and its networks across the system to support the development of the breadth of health and social care organisations.”

Confederation chair Sir Keith Pearson said: “The NHS is changing and the NHS Confederation needs to respond to the challenge that change represents.

“We will continue to bring together leaders from across the health and social care system to identify and tackle the issues that matter most to NHS staff and patients.

“We will continue to support our specialist networks for ambulance trusts, NHS mental health providers, primary care trusts and independent sector partners, and we look forward to working with the foundation trust network so that foundation trusts can continue to benefit from coming together with colleagues from across the health system.

“It has never been more important for the NHS Confederation to provide a strong industry-wide platform and voice for the NHS and we shall continue to do that.”

Trustees agreed the move at a meeting on Tuesday.