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Hospitals merger bid ‘likely to be rejected’ chief tells staff in letter
HOSPITAL bosses at Bournemouth and Christchurch are expecting their planned merger with Poole to be barred.
A letter to staff, seen by the Daily Echo, says the Competition Commission is likely to reject the merger bid in a decision expected within days.
The chief executive of Poole has previously warned that his trust could slip into the red next year and be placed into administration if the merger did not go ahead.
Tony Spotswood, chief executive of Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Trust, says in the letter to staff: “It is likely that an announcement will be made shortly on the proposed merger with Poole Hospital.
“We anticipate that due to competition concerns, the competition authorities will decide to prohibit the merger.
“We will need to continue to work closely with Poole Hospital.”
He said the “anticipated decision” meant the trust could move forward with investment plans. These included the addition of 64 beds to ease medical and elderly care bed pressures and the appointment of a range of consultant and junior staff to strengthen out-of-hours and emergency services.
Christchurch MP Chris Chope had criticised the merger process. He claimed to have been told by Mr Spotswood that if the merger went ahead, there would only be one full A&E department – probably in Bournemouth.
He said if the Competition Commission barred the merger, it would be “for the best”.
“I think what this process has shown is that the hospitals have got things back to front,” he said.
“Getting the best services is more important than looking at the hospital structures.”
He added: “It’s a pity, frankly, that we have wasted quite a lot of time and money on this process.
He welcomed the plans for more investment in Bournemouth and Christchurch.
“That’s good. I look forward to seeing them and discussing them,” he added.
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In a provisional report in July, the Competition Commission said a merger would result in a loss of choice for patients across “a large number of overlapping services”.
The two trusts then set out to prove that the benefits would outweigh the loss of choice.
A spokesperson for The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We await the Competition Commission’s final decision about merger on October 21.”
A spokesman for Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are currently awaiting the Competition Commission’s final decision following the publication of its provisional findings in July.”
Adverts claim benefits
Job adverts placed by the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch NHS trust in recent days have still been talking up the merger with Poole An ad for two communications officers at the Bournemouth hospital says the trusts “are progressing through a process to merge”.
It adds: “There are many benefits to staff and patients that can only be realised through merger.”
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