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About 70 members attended a briefing session in the Lecture Theatre at St Peter’s on 18th June 2014 to receive a progress report on the proposed merger between this Trust and Royal Surrey. After an introduction by our Chairman, Aileen, Andrew gave a brief but persuasive presentation on the current situation and the compelling reasons for merger. Although both Trusts are currently performing well, both clinically and financially, the next few years will present challenges to both. These challenges are fourfold. An ageing population, advanced costly technology, even higher quality standards and reduced funding from Government.

No change is not an option. Both Trusts will slip into deficit situations in the next four years with a consequent negative impact on clinical performance.


So, how will the merger stop this happening? Again, four main benefits:

  1. The merged Trust will have a doubled consultant base and will be able to offer seven day working.
  2. There will be opportunities to deliver even higher quality standards through increased specialisation.
  3. Because of the doubled patient base there will be better access to ‘cutting-edge’ technology.
  4. The merged Trust will be better placed to take advantage of digital technology, most particularly electronic patient records.


Andrew went on to say that all NHS trusts are working in a ‘Rough and Tough’ financial environment where demand is ever increasing but funding is, at best, capped and may well go down. Working together will not just overcome an imminent difficulty but will provide something better and more stable; built on the excellence of both organisations.


Members then learnt more about how the merged Trust will operate:

  • Ashford will become the centre for elective procedures, particularly orthopaedics, and an outreach facility from Royal Surrey for some cancer services such as chemotherapy and, in time, radiotherapy.
  • St Peter’s will become the major emergency centre for the Trust, all of Surrey and even beyond. It will expand its, already established, expertise in major vascular emergencies.
  • Royal Surrey will continue to offer all the services it currently does. A&E will remain but major vascular emergencies will be directed to St Peter’s, if medically advisable. The hospital will be enabled to further diversify and expand cancer services and become a referral centre for much of the South East of England.


What happens next?

  • There will be consultation with patients and staff.
  • There needs to be approval from Monitor and the Competition and Marketing Authority.
  • If all is agreed it will be ‘full steam ahead’ and the new merged Trust could be formed by June 2015. In the meantime, it is ‘business as usual’.


In Aileen’s words “This is a coming together of equals in order to maintain and improve quality”, or as Shakespeare wrote “let not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment

A further meeting took place at Ashford Hospital on 26th June 2014 when another 60 members attended.


Michael Smith
Appointed Governor – Woking Borough Council

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