Health chiefs have issued a Q&A about key issues, ahead of the expected merger between Bedford and Luton Hospitals.
Q: Why is this proposal being made?
The two organisations have a long history of working together and have decided that bringing both trusts together as a single organisation is the best way of ensuring sustainable and viable hospital services for the future.
There is a pressing need to address the compelling workforce challenges necessary to deliver high quality services seven days a week in an increasingly competitive market for many staff groups.
Continuing to deliver services to the standard demanded by our patients against this background has led both organisations to conclude that whilst continued collaboration was beneficial, a formal union would better maximise the opportunities for both, creating the economies of scale necessary to deliver high quality healthcare.
By creating this new organisation and delivering those benefits it also allows the two hospitals together with its commissioners and other stakeholder partners to provide certainty regarding the future of the Bedford Hospital site, providing stability and a clear and systemowned vision for clinical services at Bedford to help staff and patients move forward positively and in the best interests of the local population.
Q: What does it mean for two hospitals to merge?
This is proposed as a merger of two strong organisations, fully supported by both trust boards.
As Luton & Dunstable Hospital is a foundation trust and Bedford Hospital is not, the process will follow the NHS acquisition process which will incorporate Bedford Hospital into the existing foundation trust.
Q: How long will the process take?
The trust boards of each trust believe that after the years of uncertainty it is in the best interests of staff and the public to proceed as quickly as possible, within the constraints of the legal and regulatory requirements. We would intend to establish a new trust board by April 2018.
Q: Will there be A&E, maternity and paediatric services at both hospitals?
Q: Will the services across the two sites ultimately be situated on one site?
No. Acute hospital services will continue to be provided on both sites albeit with a new clinical model which optimises the benefits of being part of a new larger organisation.
Q: What will happen to L&D’s site development programme?
The proposals to improve the L&D site form an important part of this proposal and the capital funding for the development of a new ‘hot block’ on the L&D site will need to be endorsed by NHSI alongside the approval of the merger itself. The hot block is necessary to upgrade the existing maternity, NICU, theatres and critical care facilities.
Q: Is there a saving target as a result of the merger? If so how much money are you hoping to save by potentially combining services?
Although a potential financial saving is not the principal driver for the proposed merger given that the two trusts together have close to a balanced financial position, it is expected that bringing the two hospitals together would result in savings as a result of greater economies of scale.
We estimate that efficiencies as a large organisation rather than as two separate ones. We forecast that the organisation will achieve a balanced position by its second year and in the region of 2.5 per cent of the current costs could be achieved by the end of the fifth year.