Four more trusts have confirmed delays in their dates for submitting applications to become foundation trusts, HSJ has discovered.

Lewisham Healthcare, Northern Devon Healthcare, Buckinghamshire Healthcare and the Royal United Hospital Bath trusts all said they had put back the dates by when they planned to submit applications to the Department of Health.

Lewisham told HSJ it had delayed its application from April to June while Northern Devon said it is pushing its bid back from the start of May to August.

A spokeswoman for Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust confirmed the trust had missed its April due-date and was “considering what the revised timetable needs to look like prior to discussions with the DH”.

Royal United Hospital Bath Trust’s spokeswoman said its application was made in April, seven months after its initial October 2011 target.

Trusts signed tripartite formal agreements with the DH and strategic health authorities in September 2011 which specified deadlines for completing various stages of the process.

In March the DH said each trust would receive a monthly red, amber or green rating, depending on their progress. Three consecutive red ratings or failure to achieve the application date would trigger escalation.

Trusts in the escalation process could face a loss of autonomy and the forced departure of board members.

The four trusts which confirmed the new delays said they had not been escalated.

The DH last week confirmed 16 organisations were in the escalation process after missing milestones in their application. This is a fall of one on the previous month after Cambridgeshire Community Services Trust “re-negotiated” its submission date “following changes in board leadership”.

The department would not say which trusts had been escalated. However, last week saw the departure of the chair of Avon and Wiltshire Partnership Trust and its chief executive go on leave, five months after the trust’s foundation trust application was due.

The department had originally wanted to see all trusts become foundations by April 2014 but has since admitted that is not possible.

Applying to the DH is the second stage of an application, after the SHA has approved the bid and before it is assessed by Monitor.

This financial year is set to be the busiest for the foundation trust pipeline with 51 of the remaining 104 non foundations due to submit their application to the DH.

Minutes of the foundation trust regulator’s February board meeting, released last month, revealed the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust bid had been rejected.

The document said: “Whilst there had been significant improvements in the last six months, the trust had a limited track record and little evidence of sustained improvement.”

It added that a decision on whether to authorise a fresh bid trust should be “deferred for a period of up to twelve months.”

A trust spokeswoman said: “We were disappointed not to gain foundation trust status. However, we are confident that we can achieve foundation trust status in the near future.”

Meanwhile, an internal document seen by HSJ said South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust, whose application was previously known to be delayed, told HSJ its application would be made to the DH in August 2013.