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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NHS England Publishes New Guidance on NHS Standard Contract

NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre have published new guidance for commissioners, GP practices and providers.

The guidelines outline options for Foundation Trusts, NHS Trusts and other acute services providers to meet the changes in the 2015/16 NHS Standard Contract on the move to electronic discharges.

Webinars providing further information are planned during the remainder of September 2015.

The 2015/16 NHS Standard Contract Service Condition requires Acute and Mental Health NHS Trusts to send inpatient and day case discharge summaries, subject to the 24 hour rule, to GP practices electronically from 1st October 2015 onwards.

This change in the Standard Contract is the first step in a digital journey instigated by NHS England, with the intention of moving from paper to electronic transmission.

In future, there will also be a move to electronic structured messaging, in an attempt to realise perceived benefits around patient safety, outcome and experience.

NHS England suggests that in order to meet this challenge, providers should begin developing a roadmap that will minimise the tactical procurement and / or business process changes required.

The first of two webinars on the subject will take place on Tuesday 15th September 2015 between 2:15 and 3:00pm. Healthcare professionals can register for this event by clicking here.

This initial event will be followed up by a second webinar, on Wednesday 23rd September 2015, with this online discussion forum being held between 12:30 and 1:30pm. Registrations for this webinar can be made here.

NHS England has stated that it will be possible for healthcare professionals to ask questions during the webinar presentation.

In addition to the guidance mentioned above, HSCIC in partnership with NHS England have published a supporting guidance document for tactical and strategic messaging solutions, which can be accessed here.

The document is intended to assist Foundation Trusts, NHS Trusts and other acute services providers respond to the 2015/16 NHS Standard Contract change.

The NHS Standard Contract is mandated by NHS England for use by commissioners for all contracts for healthcare services other than primary care.

All healthcare professionals can access the 2015/16 NHS Standard Contract both in paper form and via the eContract system.

The NHS Standard Contract 2015/16 comprises three parts: Particulars, Service Conditions and General Conditions.

It is hoped that this latest version of the NHS Standard Contract will play a role in the modernisation of the health service in a time of political upheaval.

While Prime Minister David Cameron has indicated his desire for the NHS to create a seven-day culture, incoming Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has accused the Conservative government of being ‘poverty deniers’.

Corbyn has strongly reinforced his central belief in a publicly funded and owned NHS, and it seems that the health service will be one of the critical political battlegrounds throughout the remainder of this Parliament.

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