The provider arm of Cambridgeshire primary care trust is to become the country’s first community NHS trust on its journey towards foundation status.

Cambridgeshire Community Services will achieve Community NHS Trust status on 1 April.

The PCT was one of six taking part in the Department of Health’s community foundation trust pilot. The latest move represents the next step towards the provider arm’s intended goal of eventually obtaining full community foundation status.

Cambridgeshire Community Services Trust chair designate Victor Lucas said: “I am incredibly proud of this achievement, which wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment of our NHS and social care staff to providing high quality and innovative services.

“Becoming an independent organisation in our own right puts us on a level playing field with other NHS trusts locally.”

Cambridgeshire Community Services Trust chief executive designate Matthew Winn said: “Our vision is to transform services, wherever possible providing these in the community closer to people’s homes.

“Working with colleagues at Addenbrookes and Hinchingbrooke hospitals, we have already successfully begun this shift, for example through the introduction of integrated specialist diabetes service and minor oral surgery in community settings.

“During 2010/11, we will extend community based musculoskeletal and sexual health services, as well as build on our integrated approach to providing health and social care services for older people.”

The Department of Health’s deadline for all PCTs to gain provisional approval from strategic health authorities for the future model of their community services is 31 March.

While the DH guidance on transforming community services offers community foundation trust status as one of the options, NHS chief executive David Nicholson has previously made it clear that he does not expect it to be the norm. At least four SHAs have told PCTs that vertical integration with an acute or mental health trust is the preferred option.