STRUCTURE: Plymouth Hospitals Trust has pushed back its target date for applying to become a foundation trust.

In its tripartite formal agreeement signed with the strategic health authority and the Department of Health last September it committed to submitting the bid at the start of this month, but has now delayed this by at least three months.

The trust has agreed with NHS South of England that it will now submit its integrated business plan in December and in a statement it said: “This was an agreed change to the original timeline to allow time to make substantive appointments to our trust board (non-executive directors and chief executive).

“We are still looking to be authorised [by Monitor as a foundation trust] in 2013 but we anticipate that it will be four months later than the original date of February.”

The DH escalates trusts when the delay to their application is longer than three months or if they miss the target date set in their tripartite formal agreement.

Plymouth’s new chief executive Ann James is due to start at the trust on September 17.

In May three non executive directors resigned in protest at the appointment of a new chair, the trust’s third in three years.