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Like many other NHS providers our key challenge is that of continuing to deliver high quality care for our patients, whilst underlying demand for our services increases and funding is decreasing in real terms.

We are still pursuing our plans to merge with The Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, as we believe it would bring a number of key benefits, increasing the scale and resilience of both organisations and improving the quality and financial sustainability of the services we provide. In February 2015, the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) recommended a more detailed investigation into the competition issues that may arise in a number of specialities if the merger goes ahead. The CMA review is likely to be completed later this summer and their decision will guide our next steps.

At the same time we are reviewing other strategic options which could also support our longer term vision - for example looking at our strategy for specialist services and developing a clear long-term vision for Ashford Hospital.

Underpinning our future plans, we continue our journey to develop the ‘right’ culture for staff working at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals, so all staff feel valued and supported in their jobs. Whilst also continuing to find new and innovative ways of attracting and retaining new staff, particularly nurses and middle grade doctors.