We recently wrote to you to explain that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has decided to refer our merger plans with The Royal Surrey County Hospital to a second assessment phase.
Following individual meetings last week, the Boards of both Ashford and St. Peter's and the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts have now formally agreed to continue with the merger process following the CMA's announcement.
Speaking of the decision, Suzanne Rankin commented: "The rationale for proceeding with our merger plans remains as strong now as it ever was. Both Boards believe merger would help to ensure a strong future for all three of our hospitals, with clear benefits for patients. We face difficult times in the NHS with increasing demand on our services, higher costs and more focus than ever on quality standards. Yet at the same time our funding isn't able to keep pace, meaning we need to do more with less. Bringing our organisations together would give us the opportunity to improve and protect services, at the same time as making considerable financial savings that can be reinvested back into patient care."
A second phase assessment means the CMA will continue to investigate plans for the merger before making a final decision on whether or not to allow the proposed merger to proceed, a process which is likely to take approximately 6 months.
Nick Moberly, Chief Executive of The Royal Surrey County Hospital explains more: "As the CMA did not clear plans for a merger after their first phase of assessment they have now moved into a second, more detailed assessment phase. This doesn't mean that they are saying 'no', but it does mean that the CMA need to do more work before they can reach a final decision. We firmly believe merger would help to improve care for our local patients which is why our Boards have made the decision to continue with this transaction, and we remain optimistic of a positive outcome in six months' time."
We'll keep you up-to-date with any further developments on the proposed merger as they happen.