Monitor’s existing regulatory powers over foundation trusts could be extended beyond March 2016, under plans set out by ministers today.

Amendments to the Health Bill published today say that the regulator’s “specific intervention powers” will be retained for all foundation trusts until March 2016, with the health secretary gaining power beyond that period.

Previous versions of the bill would have applied the powers for two years, and only to some trusts.

The extension is in line with recommendations by the NHS Future Forum, to give foundation trust governors the time to build capability in holding their board to account, and to enable Monitor to protect the taxpayer’s investment in foundation trusts.

However, the new amendments go further. Briefing notes published alongside them say: “Where a foundation trust was authorised after April 2014, Monitor’s oversight powers would still last for two years.”

And, the Secretary of State would have the power to extend the transitional period, for a maximum of two years at a time, for all or some foundation trusts.

No time limit is given for that power, although where Monitor’s powers of intervention had not been renewed over a trust, they could not be re-imposed later.