Weston General Hospital takeover abandoned

Weston General Hospital.

Weston General Hospital. - Credit: Archant

The proposed takeover of Weston General Hospital has been abandoned, the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) has announced this morning (Friday).

Chief executive James Rimmer.

Chief executive James Rimmer. - Credit: Archant

Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust had been selected to acquire Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT) last December, but the TDA, which oversees these processes, believes it is not right on a clinical or financial level.

A WAHT spokesman told the Mercury Weston-super-Mare will retain its hospital, despite the news.

The acquisition process was started more than two-and-a-half years ago because the NHS felt WAHT was too small to survive in the long-term by itself.

But a new national vision called the Five Year Forward View has since been created within the NHS which puts greater emphasis on local hospitals, with larger specialist regional centres nearby. In Weston’s case those specialist services would likely be available in Bristol, Taunton or Yeovil.

Anne Eden, director of delivery and development for the TDA, said ‘the world has moved on’ since the acquisition process started.

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She said: “The NHS is implementing the national Five Year Forward View and looking at new ways of providing care to patients while dealing with a financially challenging time.

“As such we need to think differently about what the future looks like for Weston.

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“It is our considered view that, together, the two organisations would not represent a clinically or financially viable organisation, and as a result, an acquisition is not the right solution in this case.”

WAHT chief executive James Rimmer said a takeover by Taunton would not be in patients’ best interest anymore.

He added: “Nobody expected this to be the outcome when the process first began, but any acquisition of Weston had to always fundamentally be about what is best for our patients.

“The TDA has concluded that an acquisition doesn’t ‘represent a clinically or financially viable organisation’. So if it’s not right for our patients, it’s not right for us.”

The end of Taunton’s bid to take over WAHT signals the end of the acquisition process. The TDA will not be looking for any other health trust or commercial partner to take on the running the hospital.

The exact make-up of WAHT in future will now be analysed in the coming months.

Mark Cooke, NHS England’s South West director of commissioning operations said all parts of the NHS will ensure people living in North Somerset have ‘high quality, safe services which are sustainable’.

He added: “Our first priority is to reassure staff and the public that we continue to see the hospital as an important part of the local NHS.”

The key driving force behind the acquisition process, and the TDA’s announcement today, has been protecting Weston’s hospital.

WAHT will now look to form partnerships with other hospitals in the South West, although will remain independent following the TDA’s decision.

Mr Rimmer said: “Weston is a great small trust with excellent resources. We have a dedicated and caring staff, proud to care for their community and passionate about the NHS.

“The acquisition may no longer be in progress, but today the NHS has made a public commitment that the hospital remains ‘an important part of the local NHS’.

“Our job now is to build on that commitment across the region with the wider NHS, including Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust who remains one of our most valued partners.”

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