Merger of Two Acute Trusts is Terminated

The merger of two acute foundation trust has been postponed following one of the providers involved deciding that merging would not offer the best chance of financial stabilisation.

Royal Surrey County and Ashford and St Peter’s foundation trusts were intended to merge, following an announcement back in May 2014.

The intention at that time was to create a provider with an annual turnover of approximately £600 million.

But further investigation has suggested that services to patients may suffer were the merger to go ahead.

Hints of difficulties emerged back in March, when plans to conduct the merger were paused.

At the time, Royal Surrey’s deteriorating finances were deemed an issue, with the trust accruing a £10.2 million deficit in 2015/16.

With financial problems still rife, the Royal Surrey has now announced that the merger will not go ahead, at least in the foreseeable future.

Following a self-assessment, the Royal Surrey concluded that opting for a sustainability and transformation plan and “wider healthcare networks” would result in the best care outcomes.

“Therefore, after careful consideration, Royal Surrey’s board has concluded that it no longer believes merging offers the greatest opportunity for long term financial and operational stability and feels that it is unlikely that this position will change in the foreseeable future,” a statement released by the CCGs read.

One of the controversial aspects of this decision is the fact that Ashford and St Peter’s has not carried out a self-assessment.

There may thus be some suggestions that the CCG will be opposed to this verdict.

However, reports indicate that the board of Ashford and St Peter’s has accepted that the merger will now not proceed, and will pursue other options to improve care and services instead.

In particular, plans are being developed to network some of the clinical services delivered by the CCG across a wider geography than is currently covered by the two trusts.

For example, Frimley Health Foundation Trust board papers say stroke services may be consolidated at Frimley Park, at the expense of the Royal Surrey.

Frimley Health’s September board papers moot a “possible closure” of the Royal Surrey’s hyper-acute stroke unit in Guildford, which could increase Frimley’s workload by approximately 60%.

Both trusts are partners in the Surrey Heartlands STP.

Back in December 2015, the NHS shared planning guidance 16/17 – 20/21 outlined a new approach to help ensure that health and care services are built around the needs of local populations.


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