NHS merger stopped by Competition Commission
A PROPOSED merger between Bournemouth and Christchurch NHS Trust and Poole NHS Trust has been stopped by the Competition Commission (CC).
In a final report, the CC stated it had prohibited the merger - as there was not enough evidence the move would result in overall benefits for local patients.
The report shows a merger would 'damage patients' interests by eliminating competition and choice'.
In a joint statement, Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Foundation Trust said: "We are deeply disappointed with the Competition Comission's decision to prohibit the proposed merger.
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"This is despite the efforts we have made to explain the clinical and financial benefits and the support we have received from Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group and the NHS England Wessex Local Area Team.
"The benefits of the merger, which included increased access to consultant care and new patient facilities, will now be much more difficult to deliver, which is disappointing for both our patients and staff.
"We recognise that the Competition Commission has a statutory role to perform and specific criteria which it must use to assess benefits, but we believe that the outcome of the process is fundamentally wrong."
The CC took advice from Monitor to the Office of Fair Trading and views of local commissioners while carrying out its report.
Roger Witcomb, chairman of the CC said: "We've been acutely aware of the pressures facing NHS hospitals. However, while the broad aims of the merger are desirable ones, there simply isn't enough detail in the hospitals' plans for us to conclude that any of the claimed benefits are likely to materialise.
"As recent history in the sector shows, a merger isn't automatically a good thing for patients and it is our job to examine any proposed merger carefully."
MP questions £5million spent on putting a case for merger
Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole, has questioned Secretary of State for Health, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, about the £5 million spent putting a failed case for the merger.
Annette highlighted the situation, which she said raised questions about processes and openness with the public, in Health Oral Question Time in the House of Commons.
The MP asked Mr Hunt whether he would meet with her and other local MPs to discuss the issues in greater detail. The Secretary of State agreed to a meeting and said he wanted to ensure there was a structure inside the NHS that makes it easy for high-performing hospitals that want to work more closely together and share services to do so, if it is in the interests of patients.