KNUTSFORD’S MP has backed a hospital trust’s bid to become a ‘public membership’ body.

East Cheshire NHS Trust began a programme of public consultation for its plans to become an NHS Foundation Trust in November.

The consultation process began at the beginning of November with three public meetings on the plans being held in Winsford, Congleton and Crewe.

Guardian readers reported low turnouts for one of the events – in Winsford – and now George Osborne, MP for Tatton, is urging residents from across the area to get involved in the process.

Mr Osborne said as many people as possible are being encouraged to have their say about how their patient care is delivered either online, by post or at one of their public events.

“A huge amount of work is going into the application process, and it is important that it has the support of the local community,” he said.

“It only works if the community gets behind it. The hospital is there when we need it – and it has helped me and members of my family – the hospital now needs us to help it.”

The trust runs Knutsford’s Community Hospital, and is currently consulting on the permanent closure of the Tatton ward that is located on the site and closed temporarily in September 2010.

Becoming an NHS Foundation Trust will see the introduction of a public membership scheme, giving people more input than ever into the work of the trust.

John Wilbraham, chief executive of the trust, said: “The vast majority of people across the communities we serve have just begun to find out what our plans to become a Foundation Trust actually mean.

“Whilst our organisation will become a new entity we will still be providing high quality services for those that need them, be that in the A&E, on our wards or in people’s own homes.

“I believe that the services provided across east Cheshire and beyond can only be improved by our becoming an NHS Foundation Trust.

“The important matter is for local people to support our application, so that we can increase local involvement in how our services are provided.

“That way, together, we can determine the best way to deliver the best care to the people of east Cheshire and beyond.”

The consultation runs until February 2013.

l To get involved visit Trust.