A DAMNING report into the proposed merger of Bournemouth and Poole hospitals has shot down many of the benefits anticipated by hospital chiefs.

Criticisms about a lack of evidence and doubts about whether the merger of Bournemouth and Poole’s hospitals trusts is likely to bring any benefits to patients are detailed in two reports.

The reports are from the Office of Fair Trading and Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts.

Read the OFT report in full here and the Monitor report in full here

They suggest that based on the information available, the majority of benefits to patients may not outweigh the risks to competition.

And they question whether the contentious merger is needed at all to achieve most of the hospitals’ suggested benefits.

Christchurch MP Chris Chope, who has consistently challenged the hospital to release more information about the merger, said the two hospital trusts led by Tony Spotswood and Chris Bown had failed to acknowledge that the merger would have significant repercussions for patients.

“The reports cover a whole range of areas and what they show is that many of the benefits are speculative or uncertain and that many of them can be achieved without the merger or are not dependent on the merger.

“It makes quite clear the impact would be significant to many people and they (the trusts) have underestimated the impact of that which is very important in terms of customer services.”

He added: “It is quite interesting that they (Monitor) have taken to task the assurance that back office services could only be reduced with a merger of the hospitals as they say the back office savings could be achieved without the need for the hospital to merge.”

The concerns led the OFT to refer the proposal to the Competition Commission in January.

How the saga unfolded

  • June 2011 – Merger option first mooted for Bournemouth and Poole Hospitals.
  • November 2011 – Boards of both hospitals agree to press ahead with proposals.
  • January 2012 – 740 could go through proposed merger. Hospitals say this will be through natural turnover.
  • February 2012 – First series of public meetings set to be held over proposed merger.
  • May 2012 – Current chairman of Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch hospitals, Jane Stichbury, announced as proposed chairman should merger go ahead.
  • July 2012 – 36 out of 40 Poole councillors back emergency motion expressing concern over merger process.
  • November 2012 – Christchurch MP Chris Chope voices fears over loss of services.
  • January 2013 – OFT refers merger to Competition Commission.