HEALTH chiefs want Huddersfield people to help shape the way local hospitals are run and the services they provide.

Formal consultation on the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust's application to become a foundation trust begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, November 30.

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

Foundation trusts have been roundly criticised by the unions, but managers feel the new status will offer more benefits to patients.

Trust chief executive Diane Whittingham said: "We hope people will take the time to consider the document and share their views with us, so they can influence our final application for NHS foundation trust status and help shape the future of our hospitals."

Foundation trusts will still be part of the NHS.

They will develop services to meet local needs in partnership with GP-led primary care trusts, councils and other partners.

They will be monitored by an independent regulator.

The local trust has already sought the views of local people. More than 500 people have filled in questionnaires. The main suggestions have concerned waiting times, the environment for patients and parking.

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

The summary will also be available in libraries, GP practices and hospital waiting areas over the next few weeks.

A public meeting and exhibition is being held at the McAlpine Stadium on Sunday, October 12.

Places can be booked by ringing 01484 342250.

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