The health minister has backed Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust's (RCHT) bid to become a foundation trust (FT).Approval by Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, means it now enters the third and final stage; rigorous assessment by Monitor, the FT regulator.
In a letter to around 5,000 staff its chairman, Martin Watts, said it was a "major achievement," that staff can feel proud of.
He said: "The Department of Health has recognised our work to improve the quality and safety of our
care and the fact that we have improved our financial position.
"The Monitor assessment will quite rightly be rigorous, however if we can maintain the
continuous improvements in patient care and performance then we can be confident of
becoming an NHS Foundation Trust in 2013."
"Let us now pass the final Monitor assessment with flying colours and create an organisation in charge of its own destiny, led by our clinicians and more responsive to the local community we serve."
FT status would give the trust greater freedom; allowing it to keep any financial surplus it makes to reinvest locally and focus on providing 'blue light' acute care.
It would also be able to offer more services to private, fee paying patients, such as breast surgery and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and expand its in-house catering business.
The move could also affect staff pay and working conditions giving it a green light to implement savings in its wages bill through proposals being considered by a new pay cartel involving 20 trusts from across the south west.