RESIDENTS are set to be given a greater say in the running of mental health services in their borough.

The South London and Maudsley (Slam) NHS Trust, which is responsible for mental health services in Lewisham, has applied for foundation status.

If it is successful Slam will be able to encourage residents to become members of the trust.

This will then allow them to help shape its policy and services.

The trust would also be freer from Government intervention and would take total control of its spending.

Slam's spokesman for Lewisham, Dan Charlton, says he wants "as many people as possible" to get involved.

He said: "The biggest single thing about foundation status is it gets more people talking about mental health.

"Historically, mental health is seen as a poor relation to other parts of the NHS but it is a vital issue. A healthy body means a healthy mind.

He added: "This gives us the chance to publicise mental health and encourage people to help develop our services."

Slam was set up in 1999 and looks after mental health services in four boroughs Lewisham, Croydon, Southwark and Lambeth.

The trust is responsible for the mental health unit at Lewisham Hospital.

It also runs a range of home treatment services.

Mr Charlton expects Slam to break even this year.

He believes its stable financial position means it is ideally placed to become a foundation trust.

He said: "We are already in good shape but this would give us more flexibility and freedom over where we spend our money."

Slam's plan to apply for foundation status is currently the subject of a public consultation, which will run until May 15.

To take part in the consultation, visit

Foundation trust facts

More than 30 mainstream hospitals have become foundation trusts since they were established by the NHS in 2003.

But it is only from this year mental health trusts have been able to apply for foundation status.

The trusts have to meet national targets like all other trusts but are free to decide how they do this and are not subject to direction from the Government.

Foundation trusts are controlled and run locally by boards which include members of the public.

Foundation Trusts have greater freedom on where they spend their money and how they bring in funding from other sources.