BREAKING: Bedford-Luton hospitals merger delayed because of finances

Plans to merge Bedford Hospital with Luton & Dunstable will not make their April 1 deadline.

Bosses at the two trusts made the announcement today, saying that the financial agreements “are not yet in place”.

However they added that “real progress has been made”.

In a statement to stakeholders, including politicians, patient groups and sataff, the two trusts said: “Discussions have been ongoing with NHSI about the revenue and capital requirements that will underpin our ability to realise the benefits of the merger proposal. We had hoped by this point to have finalised our discussions with NHS Improvement to enable us to merge the organisations on April 1. However we are currently not in a position to enable this to happen as the financial agreements that will ensure the new organisation has a strong foundation are not yet in place.

“We remain optimistic that any outstanding matters can be resolved but we now know that we won’t have confirmation of the availability of capital until the next round of national funding is announced in summer 2018.

“We always recognised that it was an ambitious timeline to deliver the merger by April 1 and it has been a fantastic effort from both trust teams to have reached this point. Both boards will meet in June to review the progress of ongoing conversations with NHS Improvement, and we will keep you updated throughout this process.”

They added: “In the meantime, the plans for the merger will continue with priorities being the development of the IT and pathology functions of the two trusts. The joint Integration Board, consisting of executive representatives from both trusts, will continue to lead the integration preparations with the support of both trust boards.

“The trusts have appointed an integration director to lead the next phase of the integration work.”