Hospital trusts agree merger

ASHFORD & St Peter’s and the Royal Surrey County Hospitals’ NHS Foundation Trusts have revealed plans for a merger.

Friday’s announcement follows a period of partnership between the two trusts over the last 18 months.

Chiefs agreed that joining the organisations is the best way to ensure quality local healthcare and will be undertaking detailed work on developing a Full Business Case for the union.

Ashford & St Peter’s Chief Executive, Andrew Liles, said: “Improving care has been at the heart of our work over the last 18 months. At the same time, our clinicians have developed a joint vision of clear benefits for patients through increased collaboration.

“Having considered a number of options, our boards have decided the merger will provide the long-term, sustainable, high quality care patients need.”

A larger organisation would enable key benefits, including;

  • Development of a wider range of specialist services locally, bringing them back from London;
  • Increased seven-day working, including joint consultant rotas so hospital patients are reviewed once a day;
  • Improved access to innovations through a wider partnership with Surrey and Royal Holloway Universities;
  • Maximising benefits of digital technology – for example, in developing an electronic patient record much sooner than either organisation would be able to do on their own.

Royal Surrey Medical Director, Christopher Tibbs, explained: “Our strategy puts the patient at the heart of our plans and gives a clear vision for our three hospital sites. The Royal Surrey will continue as an Emergency and Specialist Cancer Centre, with no planned changes to A&E, maternity or paediatric services, and will have the chance to develop more specialist cancer services.

“We want to develop St Peter’s as a Major Emergency Centre, building on cardiovascular developments and other specialities such as limb reconstruction and their Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit.

“Ashford will develop as a planned surgery and diagnostic centre to provide more local cancer services. This doesn’t mean patients will have to travel further for routine services.”

Ashford & St Peter’s Medical Director, David Fluck, added: “Combined with new medicines and technologies and a focus on improving care, we need to keep pace with changes.”

A merger will take around 12 to 18 months and is subject to approval from the Competition and Markets Authority, and risk assessment by Monitor – the regulator of NHS Trusts. Both trusts will now be working with these regulators to develop a Full Business Case for a final decision later in the year.

Royal Surrey Chief Executive, Nick Moberly, concluded: “Moving towards a merger is exciting with lots of positive opportunities for patients and staff. Developing ideas with staff, patients and other stakeholders has been really helpful and we will continue to engage widely.”

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