Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals Trust has been authorised to become a foundation.

Following the approval by foundation trust regulator Monitor, Ashford and St Peters will become a foundation from today. The trust is split between sites in Surrey and Middlesex.

The Royal Free in north London also announced yesterday it is to begin the process of seeking foundation trust status next year.

The Royal Free Hampstead Trust, which was founded in 1828, is to apply to become a foundation trust from March 2012. A public consultation on the move will begin in the new year.

The health white paper “Liberating the NHS” states that the government wants all NHS trusts to become foundation trusts – or become part of one – by the end of 2013-14. Following the authorisation of Ashford and St Peters there are now 132 foundation trusts in total.

Royal Free chair Dominic Dodd said: “Foundation status will be good for our staff, good for the communities we serve and, above all, good for our patients.”

The trust was rated “excellent” for the third year running in the latest annual health check by the Care Quality Commission.

The move contrasts with difficulties being faced by some existing foundation trusts.

Monitor last week announced Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Hospitals Foundation Trust had breached its terms of authorisation by clocking up an unplanned deficit of £1.8m at the end of June and falling behind on cost improvement plans.

In September Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals Foundation Trust had to borrow £18m from the Department of Health, following serious financial problems, and Poole Hospital Foundation Trust was told in July it was in significant breach of its authorisation for financial reasons.