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Guy’s, St Thomas' and King’s NHS merger: 'now is not the time'

Plans to create a 'super-trust' by merging Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust with King's College Hospital and the local mental health trust have been put on the back burner.

Guy’s, St Thomas' and King’s NHS merger: 'now is not the time'
"This is the right decision," says Kate Hoey MP

Since 2009 the King's Health Partners umbrella grouping has brought together the work of three NHS foundation trusts – Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley – together with King's College London.

For more than 18 months the partners have been in discussions about a full merger of the three NHS trusts.

Last month the Department of Health announced the renewal of King's Health Partners' designation as an academic health science centre (AHSC) for a further five years.

Welcoming the renewal of their formal status, KHP issued a statement which revealed that work towards a full merger will now proceed at a slower pace.

"The further work we have been doing points us to the conclusion that only a merger between the NHS foundation trusts as well as closer integration with the university would enable us to maximise the benefits of our AHSC to patients," said KHP in its statement.

"Organisational change on this scale and complexity would need to take place at a measured pace, informed by clear evidence of the benefits for the patients and communities we serve.

"If we are to proceed towards a merger then the next step would be to develop a full business case, for consideration by our boards, and in the case of the NHS partners, our councils of governors.

"This is not the right time to take that step, not least because we will only do this if we are confident that a case for merger is likely to be approved by the regulators and we have made further progress in coordinating our services.

"In the meantime we are committed to a programme of work, including a revised governance structure, which will support positive action. This will enable us to work more closely together within the AHSC and with our local partners in the interests of our patients.

"This in turn should position us to launch a full business case for merger as soon as that is judged feasible."

Kate Hoey MP, who has previous raised concerns about the proposed merger, said: "This is the right decision and will be very popular.

"A huge amount of time and money has been spent but at least the outcome will be a relief all round as people don't want an oversized and remote NHS.

"I am very happy to see more co-operation between hospitals and their specialities but one big super hospital just costs more in senior management salaries and makes it more difficult for communities to feel ownership.  

"This was always an academic-led merger and I was never sure in whose interest it was being pushed."

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