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30 July 2019

Proposed merger takes a significant step forward

Merger between University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol) and Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT) takes a step closer today with the announcement that Jeff Farrar, UH Bristol's Chair and Robert Woolley, UH Bristol's Chief Executive will also fulfil these roles in WAHT from 1 September 2019.

This builds on the formal partnership agreement which has been in place between the two organisations since May 2017 and has the full support of both Trust Boards, demonstrating a clear commitment to merger by both organisations.

James Rimmer, Chief Executive WAHT said: "We have made significant progress in planning for a merger with the aim of securing the financial and clinical sustainability of Weston General Hospital. I have been encouraged to see the commitment that both Jeff and Robert have given to making this a reality. With this in mind, and with the full business case well underway, the Chair of the Trust Grahame Paine and I have taken the decision to step aside in recognition of this positive progress. It is the right time to formalise the future leadership of the organisation.

"From 1 September, I am delighted to be taking up the role of Chief Executive at Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and Grahame will remain as an advisor to Weston Area Health NHS Trust Board."

Robert Woolley, Chief Executive UH Bristol said: "We are committed to ensuring Weston General Hospital is both sustainable in the future, and remains at the heart of the community providing the services it is best placed to do in order to meet the needs of local people.

"As we move ever closer towards our intent to become one organisation in April 2020, it is right that we are strengthening further our existing formal partnership arrangements, and both Jeff and I look forward to working across both organisations to achieve this ambition."

Whilst UH Bristol and WAHT will share a Chair and Chief Executive, both organisations will remain independent until the point of merger. The full business case for the proposed merger will be presented to UH Bristol's Trust Board for consideration and approval in November 2019.