Plan to merge three Essex NHS trusts

Basildon hospital
Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of those being considered for merger

A move towards the creation of a single NHS trust

The trust boards of Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust Foundation Trust, Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust are set to discuss proposals which could see them moving towards the creation of a single NHS trust.

Southend hospital The NHS trusts running Basildon, Southend and Broomfield Hospitals will consider the benefits of the three organisations working as one in the future.

At a meeting of the three boards, held in common, yesterday, the boards were asked to approve the start of the formal process to merge the three organisations.

Since 2016 the three trusts have worked within a collaborative group model and are managed by a single joint executive group overseen by a strategic joint working board although each trust remains an individual statutory body with its own board.

At the meeting the three boards will separately decide whether or not to accept the recommendations in a report made following an options appraisal.

Clare Panniker, chief executive of the three trusts said: “A number of options on the way we work together in the longer term have been tested in a rigorous appraisal process carried out by members of the three boards, individual site leadership teams, governors/patient council representatives.

“The recommended option is to work as one organisation and for our trusts to work towards becoming a single organisation on April 1 2019.

“If the boards of each trust approve the recommended option, the next step will be to produce a strategic business case to set out what needs to be done to seek the formal approval of our regulators, our councils of governors and presents the opportunity to engage more widely with our stakeholders and local community.”

Public service union, Unison say it was not a surprise to hear that following a joint working board meeting representatives from the three hospitals have announced that they intend to take steps to formally merge next year.

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Sam Older, Regional Organiser, Unison Eastern Region, said: “Mergers and re-organisations can be a difficult time for staff who may feel uncertain of the future.

However, staff working in the NHS have to get used to it. I with UNISON reps at all three hospitals are clear that staff will be supported through any proposed changes as part of a merger.

“The hospitals in Mid and South Essex will still be there to care for the same number of people in three employers or one. All of the hospitals will still need considerable numbers of staff.

“There is an NHS crisis with 100s of staffing vacancies unfilled, hospitals running out of beds and no sign of the type of funding needed to cover even half the increase needed for the NHS to deal with pressures faced in the next five years. Unison will be working with the three employers supporting jobs and terms and conditions.”

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