HUDDERSFIELD Royal Infirmary looks set to become a new foundation hospital after the way was cleared by health secretary John Reid today.
He gave his support to the first wave of 24 NHS trusts seeking foundation status, including Calderdale and Huddersfield.
They can now apply to the Office of the Independent Regulator, chaired by Bill Moyes, for authorisation.
The new set-ups - allowing them greater management and financial freedom - are expected to come into operation from April this year.
A spokesman for Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, said: "We are pleased to be through to the next stage to become an NHS foundation trust.
"The trust will now apply to the independent regulator who will look at the application and make a final decision in the next few weeks."
The move to create foundation trusts was vehemently opposed by many MPs and the legislation passed with a majority of just 17 votes last November.
Dr Reid said: "This reform will give people more control over their local hospital.
"It will enable these excellent NHS hospitals to respond more quickly to the needs of their NHS patients."
He added: "These three-star trusts are among the best hospitals in the country and I am convinced that the freedoms that NHS Foundation Trust status brings can only improve the care they deliver to their patients."
Many Labour backbenchers have predicted the proposals will create a two-tier NHS.