About 60 acute and mental health trusts will not reach foundation status by December 2008 and are likely to be closed, taken over or reconfigured, a senior Department of Health official has predicted.

About 60 acute and mental health trusts will not reach foundation status by December 2008 and are likely to be closed, taken over or reconfigured, a senior Department of Health official has predicted.

Director general for provider development Andrew Cash told a King's Fund conference on Tuesday that he expected the number of acute and mental health foundation trusts to reach 170 by December 2008, the government's target for bringing all trusts to foundation status. 'That leaves 60 organisations... that will not remain in their current form, which leads to the issue of how you reconfigure.'

Mr Cash promised government 'announcements about acquisition and potentially about historic debt' in the future. And he said that the next NHS operating framework, expected in December, would signal the first pilots for community foundation trusts next year, along with 15 to 20 social enterprise pilots, where 'the department is going to give quite a big push'. On community foundation trusts he said: 'This will not be easy to do,' but that the pilots would 'signal a bit of a starting gun'.

Referring to the timetable for foundation status, he said the government expected to see 70 foundation trusts by next month, rising to 100 in December 2007, and 170 a year later.

The predictions are more optimistic than those from foundation trust regulator Monitor, which suggested in July that up to 105 trusts would meet the 2008 target