PEOPLE are invited to apply to become a member of the foundation trust which may run Huddersfield's hospitals.

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust is considering applying for foundation status.

Foundation trusts, if established next year, will be run on similar lines to mutual organisations and co-operative societies.

As such, residents or workers are invited to apply to become a member of their local foundation hospital trust.

Public events to help thrash out what membership will involve are to be held before the trust submits its final application to become a foundation trust in December.

Foundation hospitals have been widely criticised by the unions.

Prime Minister Tony Blair suffered defeat over the policy at the recent Labour Party conference.

But he intends to plough on with the policy, which will grant more freedom to hospital managers and allow them to borrow money from the private sector.

A public meeting and exhibition about foundation hospitals will be held at the McAlpine Stadium next Sunday.

Formal consultation on the local trust's application to become a foundation trust ends on Sunday, November 30.

A document summarising the case for foundation status is available at libraries, GP practices and hospital waiting areas.

The documents contain application forms for people to register their interest in being members.

A spokesman for the trust said: "We are asking people to pre- register their interest in becoming a member and will enter them on a database.

"If the Government gets the go- ahead for foundation hospitals we will contact everyone on the database and invite them to formally apply to become a member of the trust."

The spokesman said membership would probably include voting rights for members of the board of governors.

If the bid is successful, the trust - which runs Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, St Luke's Hospital at Crosland Moor and the Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax - could be one of the first in the country to achieve foundation status.

A consultation document and summary are available from or phoning 01484 342250.

Places for next Sunday's meeting at the Alfred McAlpine Stadium can be booked by ringing 01484 342250.

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