Weston General Hospital bosses resign as big changes to the service loom

James Rimmer, chief executive of Weston General Hospital.

James Rimmer, chief executive of Weston General Hospital. - Credit: Archant

A merger which will see Weston’s health services managed in Bristol has taken a ‘significant’ step forward.

Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT) and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol) will be amalgamated in the coming months, in hope of securing a sustainable future for Weston General Hospital.

The arrangement, which has been in the works since May 2017, was confirmed at a board meeting on Tuesday.

The merger will see the hospital's chief executive James Rimmer and chairman Grahame Paine step down, with UH Bristol bosses taking control of Weston General Hospital.

Jeff Farrar will become the chairman of WAHT, and Robert Woolley will become the trust's chief executive on September 1.

Executives hope the two organisations will unify in April after the merger is agreed by UH Bristol's board in November.

Uncertainty surrounds the future of the hospital, where A&E has been shut overnight for more than two years - and plans to make the closure permanent will be decided in October.

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Mr Rimmer, who will become chief executive of Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group next month, said: "We have made significant progress in planning for a merger with the aim of securing the financial and clinical sustainability of the 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, we 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."

Mr Paine will remain as an advisor to the WAHT board.

Mr Woolley believes the deal is in the best interests of patients in Weston.

He 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 closer towards our intent to become one organisation in April 2020, it is right we strengthen further our formal partnership arrangements, and both Jeff and I look forward to working across both organisations to achieve this ambition."