Hospitals merger is given the green light
TWO major hospital Trusts have finally been given the green light to merge, after the competitions regulator gave them the all- clear to make a “super- trust”.
The Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust ( HEFT), which runs Solihull, Good Hope and Heartlands hospitals, and the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust ( UHB), which runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, officially announced their merger in September last year.
Eleven months earlier, UHB chief executive Dame Julie Moore and chairwoman Jacqui Smith were parachuted in as interim bosses to HEFT, after serious concerns by health regulator Monitor over their finances.
It cames just weeks after an investigation was launched into HEFT’s finances, after it accumulated an “unacceptable” deficit of £ 30 million in just five months.
Now, the Competitions and Marketing Authority ( CMA) has given the hospital trusts, which have a joint turnover of more than £ 1.4 billion a year, the go- ahead.
It follows an investigation launched on July 4 into concerns that the merger could affect competition across elective specialities.
But the CMA found that the “substantial improvements to patient care expected” from the merger far outweighed any competition concerns.
And HEFT was described as a “weak competitor without the support of UHB”. The CMA claims that, since the take- over in October 2015, patients have seen “a reduction in waiting times, and improvement in patient safety and care for all HEFT patients”.
In a statement it added: “These improvements and a number of other longerterm benefits would disappear without the merger and the continued presence of the UHB management at HEFT.”
Kate Collyer, deputy chief economic adviser and the decision maker in this case, said: “The hospitals involved presented clear evidence and a wellreasoned case.
“Competition currently plays a limited role in the NHS, as health commissioners and regulators have instead emphasised co- operative working to handle growing demand for NHS services.
“However, given the scale of the potential impact on patients in Birmingham and Solihull, it was appropriate for the CMA to examine this transaction to determine whether any loss of choice or competition would be outweighed by improvements undertaken by the parties and overseen by NHS Improvement.”
Given the scale of the potential impact on patients in Birmingham and Solihull, it was appropriate for the CMA to examine this transaction. KATE COLLYER
Solihull Hospital and, inset, Heartlands
Dame Julie Moore