Trust merger on the cards after all clear

ASHFORD & St Peter’s and Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Trusts look set to break new ground after the Competition & Markets Authority gave their final clearance for a proposed merger.

Following an in-depth investigation and the publication of their provisional clearance last month, the CMA has now formally concluded that the proposed merger, if completed, will not give rise to a substantial lessening of competition for patients – it means the trusts are now able to move forward to the next stage of their plans.

Chief Executive of Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals, Suzanne Rankin, was delighted with last week’s verdict.

She explained: “Naturally we are pleased to receive the CMA’s final report, which confirms their final position.

“We are particularly pleased that, following a really detailed assessment, the CMA has given us an unconditional clearance, with no suggested remedies or actions.

“This is an extremely positive position to be in and recognises both the benefits the proposed merger would bring to patients and the commitment to high quality care shown by the staff of our two organisations.”

The next stage in the process will be for both boards to consider the full business case and detailed financial plans for the proposed merger and to make their decision on the next step forward.

Subject to their approval, the process will then include an assessment by health sector regulator, Monitor, and at a later stage, final approvals from Boards and Councils of Governors.

Nick Moberly, Chief Executive of the Royal Surrey County Hospital, said that the announcement, coming so far ahead of the CAM’s final deadline for a response, gives all parties great confidence they are heading in the right direction.

He explained: “The announcement, published ahead of the CMA’s October 7 cut off, marks an important milestone in our planning and is a very positive step forward. Subject to approval by both boards later in the autumn, we will then embark on a wide engagement campaign to ensure people understand what these proposals mean for both patients and staff, and to hear their views.”

Subject to full regulatory, board and governor approvals, the earliest start date for the proposed new organisation would be the summer of 2016.

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