The Royal Bournemouth and Poole Hospital Trusts have issued a joint statement saying they believe the merger is the bext way forward for excellent services. It says:

We firmly believe that merger is the best way forward to ensure that we continue to provide excellent services locally.

The clinical benefits that the trusts outlined received widespread support, including from clinicians and commissioners.

Further evidence was asked for to demonstrate that the merger is critical to securing these benefits and this information has now been received by the Competition Commission.

The benefits that the merger will facilitate, which are not possible as individual organisations, include:

• The building of a new hi-tech maternity hospital for the women of east Dorset

• The strengthening of inpatient specialist haematology services, including the creation of new facilities and, critically, the securing of this service within Dorset

• The strengthening of the cardiology service at Poole Hospital, ensuring 7 day a week, 24 hours a day consultant led care and the development of specialist services in Dorset

• More consultant delivered care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week within the accident and emergency service

• Increased consultant input for those patients who come into hospital requiring emergency surgery, and faster treatment

All of these combine to offer patients an improved experience, better outcomes and will help reduce hospital mortality.

Merger releases savings in management and duplication that can be reinvested to protect front line services.

It also allows clinical teams to unite and share duties over all three hospital sites. This will lead to increased hands on care from consultants, which is more likely to lead to improved services and outcomes for patients.

Without merger we believe that there will be less choice for patients and fewer services provided in east Dorset.

There are also key national drivers for change, such as providing increased consultant led care, regardless of merger. Locally, some services are not financially sustainable and we cannot make the investment needed at Poole Hospital without merger.

The NHS operates in a different world when it comes to competition. While this is the focus for the Competition Commission, it is not our predominant behaviour.

Striving to provide the best possible care, outcomes and experience for our patients is our priority.

Our clinicians are competitive individuals who want to provide the best care possible for patients, but in order to do this collaboration is key. Merger ensures we can continue to provide quality care locally and meet future standards of healthcare.

The competition process assesses what situation could be expected with and without the merger. In this case the trusts stressed the benefits resulting from the merger for patients. In this context, the trusts presented different clinical scenarios.

It is important to stress that they are not changes which have plans in place, have been pre-determined or agreed on any level. Before any changes to services could be made significant public engagement and consultation must take place (at least 13 weeks).

If the merger is approved, any service changes ultimately proposed by the new organisation (Bournemouth and Poole NHS Foundation Trust) will be consulted on fully.

It will follow a four test approach that is set out by the Secretary of State before any changes can be made.

These include an extensive public consultation process, support from GP leaders and commissioners of services and others who refer our services, proposals are evidence-based and that there continues to be choice for patients.

This is a legal process with stringent criteria which will ensure transparency throughout and should therefore reassure the public.

We will work with the Competition Commission, which is reviewing the merger in more detail, over the coming weeks to explore further the benefits we believe merger will facilitate.

We will also be exploring the implications if the trusts do not merge, given the challenges facing the NHS both financially and continuing to provide high quality services locally.

If the merger is approved, for the vast majority of outpatient clinics, diagnostic tests, daycase procedures and most other forms of care, services will continue to be delivered from their existing locations – some from more local locations so as to reduce travel for our patients.