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31 January 2018

Two NHS Trusts to work towards possible merger

Today, 31 January 2018, the Trust Board of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol), with the support of its Council of Governors, has confirmed its intention to pursue an organisational merger with Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT). This has been welcomed by the WAHT Board who also met today to review the proposal.

The potential merger builds on the formal partnership between the two trusts that has been in place since May 2017, enabling greater joint working between the organisations and more seamless care to patients.

It also supports the work of 'Healthy Weston: joining up services for better care in the Weston area' led by North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group. A key aim of Healthy Weston is to create a sustainable hospital at Weston General Hospital that remains at the heart of the community and provides the services it is best placed to do in order to meet the needs of local people.

Robert Woolley, Chief Executive of UH Bristol, said: "Today, the Trust Board agreed that we would build on our existing partnership and together with WAHT undertake further work to pursue a possible merger. Our shared goal remains to ensure hospital-based services in Bristol and North Somerset provide high quality care to patients and families which are clinically and financially sustainable and we believe that a merger with Weston Area Health NHS Trust could help achieve this goal."

James Rimmer, Chief Executive of WAHT, said: "We are making good progress through our formal partnership with UH Bristol - for example we share some joint staff, many of our clinical services are closely linked and we are integrating some of our services. We believe we could make more rapid progress and improve our long-term sustainability by formally merging with UH Bristol. We look forward to exploring this further with UH Bristol, in the context of the 'Healthy Weston' programme, over the coming months."

The next phase of this work will see both trusts working through a comprehensive appraisal process. The purpose of this appraisal process is to assess the clinical and financial benefits of a merger within the context of the 'Healthy Weston' programme. Depending on the outcome of the appraisal process, UH Bristol would complete a full business case for consideration by the boards of both trusts and the Council of Governors at UH Bristol with a view to completing the merger in the spring of 2019 at the earliest. Any final decision would also require the approval of the Competition and Markets Authority and NHS regulators.