Foundation status has been awarded to St George's Healthcare NHS Trust, allowing more than 5m patients to have more of a say on how the health service is run.

Monitor, sector regulator of NHS-funded healthcare services, announced today it awarded the status to the trust after rigorously assessing it.

The decision gives the trust a range of new freedoms and allows local people to have a formal say about how it was run by becoming governors.

Although approving the trust's foundation application, Monitor said it needed to continue reducing the number of patients waiting too long in accident and emergency and will be monitoring the trust's performance against the agreed action plan.

Miranda Carter, executive director or provider appraisal at Monitor, said: "We are delighted to announce that Monitor has allowed St George's Healthcare NHS Trust to become a foundation trust. This is great news for the trust, which benefits from new freedoms, but even better news for its patients, who can have a greater say over their health services.

"The trust has worked very hard to achieve foundation trust status and should feel proud of this accomplishment. We hope that St George's will use its new freedoms to continue to deliver quality care and keep looking for ways to improve its services for patients."

The trust met the financial standards expected of foundation trusts, having established new borrowing arrangements. The independent Care Quality Commission rated the trust's services as good overall.

Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting, said: "This is welcome news for the hospital and all the hard working staff. I know that foundation trust status has been long in the making. As the local MP, and as someone whose family and friends have benefited from the excellent care at St George's, I am extremely pleased that the application has now been approved, as it means our local community is receiving better care with the hospital now being on a more secure footing."

There are now 149 NHS foundation trusts in England and as a newly awarded one, St George's will be free from central government control, able to retain surpluses generated to invest in new services and borrow money to support these investments and accountable to local communities.