Weston General faces merger with Bristol hospitals

PUBLISHED: 15:28 31 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:34 31 January 2018

Weston General Hospital.

Weston General Hospital.

Archant

Weston General Hospital could merge with its Bristol counterpart.

Chief executive James Rimmer. Chief executive James Rimmer.

High level talks by University Hospitals Bristol (UHB) took place this afternoon (Wednesday) about the possibility and it believes a merger would work for both it and Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT).

Robert Woolley, chief executive of UHB, said: “Today, the trust board agreed 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 WAHT could help achieve this goal.”

WAHT is the smallest trust in England and a planned merger with Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust was axed in 2015 as it was not deemed to be make sense financially or clinically.

However, its chief executive James Rimmer believes this is a sensible step.

He said: “We are making good progress through our formal partnership with UHB – 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 UHB.

“We look forward to exploring this further with UH Bristol, in the context of the Healthy Weston programme, over the coming months.”

The Healthy Weston plan, which has been put together by North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, looks at future health service needs for the area.

A&E and maternity services are among those being looked at, with the latter felt to be financially unsustainable at the moment given how few women give birth in Weston’s Ashcombe unit.

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.

Any final decision would also require the approval of the Competition and Markets Authority and NHS regulators.

If a merger is approved, UHB believes it will be completed by spring 2019 at the earliest.

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