Earlier this week the Boards of Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals and The Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts agreed that merging the two organisations is the best way to ensure high quality local healthcare with maximum benefits for patients, and have agreed to undertake more detailed work on developing a Full Business Case for merger.
This decision follows a period of partnership between the two Trusts over the last 18 months, who have worked together on a number of clinical projects to improve services for local patients.
Andrew Liles, Chief Executive at Ashford & St Peter’s says: “Improving patient care for people in Surrey has been at the heart of our partnership work over the last 18 months. At the same time, our clinicians have developed a joint clinical vision which describes clear benefits for patients through increased collaboration. Having considered a number of options on the best way to deliver high quality services to patients, our Boards have decided that the merger of our two organisations will provide the long-term, sustainable, high quality care that patients need.”
A larger organisation and catchment population would allow a number of key benefits:
- The development of a wider range of specialist services locally, bringing services back from London;
- Increased 7 day working, including joint consultant rotas so patients in hospital are reviewed by a consultant every day;
- Improved access for patients to cutting edge treatments and 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 that either organisation would be able to do on their own.
Medical Director at The Royal Surrey County Hospital, Christopher Tibbs explains more: “Our strategy puts the patient at the heart of our plans and includes a clear vision for our three hospital sites, which already complement each other well. The Royal Surrey County Hospital will continue as an Emergency and Specialist Cancer Centre, with no planned changes to A&E, maternity or paediatric services, with the opportunity to develop more specialist cancer services. We want to develop St Peter’s Hospital as a Major Emergency Centre, building on recent developments in cardiovascular services and other specialities such as limb reconstruction and a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit. Ashford Hospital will develop as a planned surgery and diagnostic centre where we can provide more local cancer treatments services. This is about enhancing services and doesn’t mean patients will have to travel further for routine hospital services.”
David Fluck, Medical Director at Ashford & St Peter’s adds: “Healthcare is changing and we must change with it. People are living longer – often with multiple conditions; combined with new medicines and technologies and a strong focus on improving quality of care we need to transform the way we work to keep pace with these changes and continue to develop. The two trusts working together gives us the opportunity to make the transformational change we need for our patients.”
Over the last few months both Trusts have been engaging widely with staff, Governors, patient representatives and other local stakeholders who have shown broad support for the partnership and increased collaboration.
A merger will take around 12-18 months to implement and is subject to regulatory approval from the Competition and Markets Authority and risk assessment by Monitor - the independent regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts. Both Trusts will now be working with these regulators to seek approval for the transaction and to develop a Full Business Case for a final decision and approval by Boards and Governors later in the year.
Nick Moberly, Chief Executive at The Royal Surrey County Hospital concludes: “Moving towards a merger is exciting with lots of positive opportunities for both patients and staff and we are looking forward to getting on with the next steps. Developing ideas with staff, patients and other stakeholders has been really helpful and we will continue to engage widely over the next year to eighteen months, at the same time working hard to ensure our day to day business continues as usual during this time.”