A hospital trust’s foundation application has been delayed by health minister Mike O’Brien in an unusual intervention in the authorisation process.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust’s application went to the Department of Health applications committee in July.

To ensure the quality of care being provided at the trust has been comprehensively assessed, I have asked [the trust] to demonstrate that they can maintain their current performance for a few more months

Sources familiar with the situation told HSJ it was deferred at the request of Mr O’Brien, who is a West Midlands MP.

Last week the trust was asked to provide new performance information to the minister’s office, and it is now awaiting a decision on whether its application will be allowed to go to Monitor. It is not known when the decision will be made.

The source said there was “no protocol” for the situation because applications committee decisions are normally approved by ministers.

Mr O’Brien said in a statement to HSJ: “In the past, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust has had difficulties performing to the high standards that we require.

“The trust’s performance has recently improved significantly, but to ensure the quality of care being provided at the trust has been comprehensively assessed within the wider consideration of their FT application, I have asked [the trust] to demonstrate that they can maintain their current performance for a few more months.”

Trust chief executive John Rostill said: “It is understandable in the light of Mid Staffs and other events that ministers want to be sure that quality is at the top of our agenda.

“That said… our board, clinicians and other stakeholders were all supporting us to go through [to the Monitor stage].”

Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, found in March by the Healthcare Commission to have “appalling” standards of care, was authorised as a foundation in early 2008.