KINGSTON Hospital has suffered a setback in its bid for foundation status after health chiefs failed to approve the move.
The hospital had hoped to become a Foundation Trust (FT), giving it more independence and greater freedom to borrow money for investment, by October next year.
But it has had to put its ambitions on hold after NHS Kingston, responsible for healthcare in the borough, refused
to endorse the application, pending a review of health services in south west London. As a result, Kingston Hospital has changed its target for achieving foundation status to February 2011.
NHS Kingston was asked for its views as part of a 12-week consultation on the application that ended in September, the results of which are due to be presented at this month's board meeting. Richmond Park MP Susan Kramer said she was 'very concerned' about the trust's failure to endorse the hospital's foundation status bid at this stage.
A spokeswoman for NHS Kingston said: "As part of the Healthcare for London programme we're looking at a number of options to improve local services, and until this work is finished unfortunately we can't take a position on the hospital's application to become a Foundation Trust.
"However, we completely support the principle of provider organisations becoming Foundation Trusts and we're committed to working with the hospital to deliver the best possible services for Kingston residents."
A hospital spokesman said: "It is a requirement of the Foundation Trust application process that hospitals demonstrate alignment of plans with their local primary healthcare trust and the community.
"Pending the south west London review of healthcare, NHS Kingston is not in a position to endorse our FT application at this time. However, the FT application process is designed to ensure an organisation is fit to manage itself, and there is plenty the trust is working on in the meantime to ensure that as soon as the review is completed we can quickly move through the final stages of the application process."