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Hospital merger plans under way

PUBLISHED: 18:31 24 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:23 25 August 2010

HOSPITALS in the area have already taken steps towards a merger even though the government is undecided on the issue.

HOSPITALS in the area have already taken steps towards a merger even though the government is undecided on the issue.

Queen Mary's Hospital NHS Trust (QMS) and Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust have merged jobs and services despite the government only just beginning a national consultation on the issue.

This month, QMS and Bromley merged their Director of Estates post - appointing John Mills. They currently use one communications manager for both trusts. They have not hired a permanent Chief Executive at Bromley since January 2007 - to avoid a large redundancy pay out should the post be scrapped.

Already IT, legal, communication and procurement services have merged between the two.

And since September last year, Bromley Hospitals began managing the public mortuary service for QMS after taking over their sterilisation services last March.

The trusts can get away with merging management positions without a public consultation, but would have to ask residents if they wanted to merge clinical posts.

A spokesperson for NHS London said urgent action was needed across these trusts and could not wait for the government to legislate on the issue. The new government proposals look at how to deal with financially challenged trusts, where all previous turnaround efforts have failed. The trusts of Sidcup, Bromley, Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, Woolwich and Lewisham are among the seven still listed as financially challenged. The new proposals include reconfiguring services more rapidly and sacking failing trusts' boards, leaving them to be merged with more successful trusts nearby.

It was expected that the Sidcup and Bromley trusts would merge after the decision to slash QMS of its A&E, maternity and inpatient paediatric service.

But these plans will have to be shelved after the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JOSC) decided two weeks ago to refer the decision to the Secretary of State for Health.

A spokesperson for QMS said: "We are working with neighbouring trusts to create joint posts where the opportunity arises."

The government claims failing trusts have been dealt with in an ad hoc way and now legislation should be put in place for the future. To get a consultation document log on to the website: www.dh.gov.uk/en/Consultations/Liveconsultations/DH_087835 or write to Regime for unsustainable NHS providers, consultation, Room G06A Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2NS.

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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