Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP Steve Brine has commented on confirmation of the proposed merger between two Hampshire hospital trusts.
Basingstoke and North Hampshire NHS Foundation Trust (BNHFT) and Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust (WEHCT) will now pursue a formal partnership, having agreed that this is best way to continue providing high quality services for people in north and mid Hampshire.
The process is at a very early stage and there will now follow a lengthy period of due diligence and public engagement. If this proceeds as planned, WEHCT and BNHFT could become a single FT by April 2012.
Speaking from the House of Commons on Monday 6th December, he said:"The Trust have kept me fully updated on their discussions with Basingstoke and I welcome the positive nature of this announcement.
"At every stage I have said to the Trust what I said to local people at the election; I am only interested in protecting the key services we rely on locally. That means full service A&E and maternity in Winchester and all that sits behind them to maintain a District General Hospital worth of the name.”
Government policy now requires that all NHS hospital trusts (who aren’t yet Foundation Trusts) must become Foundation Trusts by 2014. BNHFT has been an FT since December 2006. Due to long-standing financial issues, WEHCT cannot achieve FT status on its own but can by joining an existing FT.
NHS Hampshire, which commissions services from both trusts, and the South Central Strategic Health Authority fully endorse the proposed integration, which has now been approved by all the trusts’ Boards. Lead GPs have also been involved and have given their support.
Steve continued: "If merger with Basingstoke can create a new Foundation Trust that is sustainable for the long-term and ends the constant speculation about the end of Winchester Hospital, I will back it whole-heartedly and I hope people locally will as well.
"The fact this proposal has the strong support of clinicians at both trusts is absolutely fundamental in my view. I will be staying very close to this process and keeping local services for Winchester centre-stage as I do."
Mary Edwards, chief executive at BNHFT, said: “This partnership brings together two trusts with great track records in patient care. The similarities between our services, the way we work and our core values will, I believe, vastly outweigh our differences.”
Dr Chris Gordon, chief executive of WEHCT, said: “As a doctor, I am pleased to say that this proposal has the strong support of clinicians at both trusts. This is absolutely fundamental in the forming of a new, integrated organisation because it will ensure that the needs of our patients remain paramount.”
Winchester GP, Dr Nigel Sylvester said: "We as GPs have been involved in the discussions about the future of hospital services from the start. We are aware that there are pressing reasons for change and support the proposed merger as a viable way forward. The long term welfare of patients and quality of services available to them is central to the process. There are undoubtedly going to be some difficult clinical decisions about how certain services are provided and we are reassured that any future changes will be led by clinicians working with patients. The merger offers the opportunity for really strong clinical co-operation between primary and secondary care in our region.”
For more information on Foundation Trusts visit http://www.monitor-nhsft.gov.uk/home/about-nhs-foundation-trusts/what-are-nhs-foundation-trusts
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