Study launched into viability of merging city hospitals' management
A MERGER of the management of Bristol's hospitals could be a step closer after a study was launched to see if it could work.
The city's two major hospital trusts are currently run as separate organisations.
But a project team led by vice chancellor of the University of the West of England, Professor Steve West, will look at whether it would be better for hospital services across the city to be delivered by a single organisation.
There have been rumours of a possible merger of North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs Frenchay and Southmead hospitals, and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust for several years but the announcement of the new project brings it a step closer to reality.
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The hospital trusts signed a formal partnership agreement in 2010, which stated that they would continue to work more closely in the future. Already staff training has been carried out across the city as a result of the agreement.
The project team will look at how best to provide future healthcare across the city, including the possibility of centralising hospital services. Its remit includes discussing the best management structure for city hospitals, which could lead to a merger being recommended. The team, which is made up of the chief executives and chairmen from both hospital trusts and the primary care trusts and NHS South of England, will consider whether it would be better to run hospital services as a single organisation or to remain separate. They plan to present their findings at hospital trust board meetings at the end of July.
Professor West, right, said: "This project is a critical next step in the trusts' working partnership to ensure the delivery of quality healthcare for the residents of Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and further afield. The strategy will ensure that both organisations are best placed to meet the future national and local demands on the NHS."
The hospital trusts will continue to run their organisations as normal until the project has been completed, with NBT pushing on with its plans to become a foundation trust, giving the public a greater say on the provision of healthcare. The trust's proposal to become a foundation trust referred to the "possible merger" in the future but it was not expected to happen before the end of this year.