STRUCTURE: Liverpool Community Health Trust has abandoned its bid for foundation trust status after concluding it no longer represented a sustainable future for the trust.

The trust said it had withdrawn from the FT pipeline to explore “alternative organisational models”, including the option of becoming a multispecialty community provider as outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

The last few years have been troubled for the trust. In January 2014 it was issued two warning notices following a highly critical inspection report from the Care Quality Commission that raised concerns about the trust’s culture and staffing numbers.

Liverpool Merseyside waterfront

The trust in Liverpool will explore ‘alternative organisational models’

It was re-inspected by the CQC in May and given a rating of “requires improvement”.

According to the trust, the efficiency programme associated with its quest for foundation status since 2011-12 was an “underlying cause” of its recent troubles.

Pulling out of the pipeline means it no longer has to deliver a fixed end of year surplus, although it is still forecasting to break even in 2014-15.

Liverpool Community said its decision, which has been accepted by the NHS Trust Development Authority, would allow it to “look at a new way of organising NHS community services that is more joined up and able to keep pace with the changing health needs of the area’s population”.

A sustainability board with representation from the trust, the TDA and commissioners will carry out an appraisal to assess alternative organisational models.

The trust said it was particularly interested in the idea floated in the forward view of groups of GPs combining with nurses, community health services and hospital specialists to deliver integrated out of hospital care – the multispecialty community provider model.

The sustainability board expects to choose a preferred option by June but it will not be implemented until April 2016 at the earliest.

A spokeswoman for the TDA said the trust’s decision had been taken after “much consideration of its ability to move forward at the moment as a potential standalone FT”.

She said the TDA would “work with staff, commissioners and stakeholders to bring about a positive and successful future outcome for the patients cared for by the trust”.

The TDA is currently in the late stages of a process to “segment” the trust sector into different groups according to their prospects for achieving FT status.

This will include identifying a cohort of trusts that cannot reach the status in their current form.

For these trusts, acquisition by another organisation or a “franchise, management contract or other innovative organisational form” will be the best way of making them sustainable.

A first cut of the segmentation has now been completed but it is not yet clear when this information will be published.