What’s happening about the possible merger?

Thursday 9th December 2021

What’s happening about the possible merger?

As described in the leaflet Securing the long term future of Queen Victoria Hospital QVH faces some challenges related to our size.

We are the second smallest trust in the country and while we provide excellent care we need to look at how we can protect that and ensure the hospital is sustainable for the long term.

On 5 August, the boards of Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (QVH) and University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust (UHSussex) each considered the next steps for working in partnership. Both boards agreed to work together to develop a full business case for potential merger.

It was agreed that detailed work to explore the operational, clinical and financial aspects of a potential merger would be undertaken to provide the information needed for the boards of both organisations to determine whether to proceed with the merger process.

We have now agreed our focus over the next 4-6 months will be on clinical leads in both organisations working together to identify what improvements a joined up service could bring for patients and staff.

In parallel with that we will be bringing the Patient First improvement methodology to QVH as well as support for back office functions where needed.

In Spring 2022 we will set up a project team to prepare the full business case for merger, with a view to board decision making in Autumn 2022. We had hoped to progress work on the full business case sooner, but the operational pressures both organisations are experiencing and the ongoing pandemic mean this is not possible.

As part of the full business case work there will be a focus on engagement with staff, people who use our services, commissioners, other healthcare providers and other stakeholders such as charities closely linked to our work. We will be explaining what merger would look like, seeking views on the improvements we can achieve, and understanding the concerns that need to be addressed.

In reaching its decision, the QVH board took into account the potential for further investment in services, maintaining and building on QVH’s excellent record for patient experience, clinical outcomes and safety, and continuing to deliver world class research and innovation. It decided that the potential merger offers the best opportunity to secure the future of the hospital in East Grinstead.

Steve Jenkin, chief executive of QVH, said: “In reaching this decision, the board of QVH took into account the potential for further investment in services; maintaining and building on QVH’s excellent record for patient experience, clinical outcomes and safety; and continuing to deliver world class research and innovation. In the months ahead we will be actively seeking views from our staff and other stakeholders on what merger would look like, and how merger could secure the long term sustainable future of a much loved hospital and the specialist services for which we are so highly regarded.”

Marianne Griffiths, chief executive of UHSussex, said: “QVH, with its track record for specialist expertise and excellent patient care, has long been a valued partner for UHSussex. Building on our long history of partnership working could help address the clinical and financial challenges facing the Trust, further enhance the services offered by both trusts for patients locally and further afield, and secure a sustainable long term future for a hospital that is such an important part of the NHS.”

The strategic case for change that was approved by the boards does not include any specific plans for service changes. If in future there are service changes identified that could benefit patients, proposals would be shaped by clinicians and feedback sought from the people who use those services before any decisions were made.

Should the decision be taken in autumn 2022 to proceed to merger, it is likely to take six months to prepare for a smooth transition, with merger in spring 2023. The timeline will be mapped out in more detail as we progress.

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Updated: 9 December 2021