SENIOR councillors have given their backing to a plan to give hospitals in Oxford greater independence.

At a meeting of Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet, members unanimously agreed to throw their weight behind plans to turn Oxford University Hospitals Trust into a ‘foundation trust’. The existing organisation said the new status would give it greater independence from Government on spending and management.

At the meeting, councillors asked questions of trust chief executive Sir Jonathan Michael, and gave their support.

Cabinet member for adult services Arash Fatemian said: “The council is happy to support the application, having received reassurances from Sir Jonathan Michael that they are committed to a number of important principles.

“We have an important role to play in ensuring that Oxfordshire’s residents get the best from any major change such as this. Having heard from Sir Jonathan we feel we are able to throw our weight behind their bid.”

The trust has to submit its bid for foundation status to the Government by the end of the year, with the change expected to take place by 2014.