Hospital bosses in Brighton are planning a £1 billion merger with a neighbouring NHS trust.
The new organisation would serve Brighton and Hove, Mid Sussex and the coastal stretch of West Sussex from Shoreham to Chichester.
It would have more than 15,000 staff and – when modernisation work is complete – a £500 million new hospital in Brighton offering local health care and serving as a regional specialist centre.
Currently, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and Sussex Eye Hospital, in Brighton, and the Princess Royal Hospital, in Haywards Heath.
BSUH is expected to merge with Western Sussex Hospitals, the NHS trust that runs Worthing Hospital, Southlands Hospital, in Shoreham, and St Richard’s Hospital, in Chichester.
Since April 2017 the two trusts have shared a key leadership team, led by chief executive Dame Marianne Griffiths. Her deputy, George Findlay, is expected to brief staff tomorrow morning.
In the past three years, BSUH has emerged from “special measures”, having been rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in August 2016.
The trust was also placed in “financial special measures” as its deficit soared to more than £70 million.
BSUH, with more than 8,000 staff, has an annual income of more than £500 million a year and is bringing down a deficit that still totals tens of millions of pounds.
Western, with more than 7,000 staff, has an annual income of more than £400 million and in its 2018-19 accounts the trust recorded a surplus of £23 million.
Dame Marianne wrote to staff today (Monday 6 July) and said: “I am writing to update you on the plans for the future long-term working relationship between Western Sussex Hospitals and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals.
“As we have responded to the covid-19 pandemic the collaboration, mutual support and sharing of expertise between the two trusts has been hugely effective.
“This partnership has enabled us to provide the very best care for our patients while maintaining our focus on staff safety.
“During these exceptional times there have also been significant changes to the NHS landscape, with an emphasis on closer working across health and social care.
“As a result of these changes, and building on the closer working between the trusts, the board has decided to pursue a merger between WSHT and BSUH, creating one, new organisation.
“Last year the trust board’s decision was to explore the options for a group structure, in which the two trusts operated independently alongside each other while remaining under a single leadership.
“But in light of the changes in the NHS and the recent successful joint working between the trusts it became clear we needed to revisit all options.
“We believe a new, single organisation will provide us with many opportunities and will ensure we can
- Build on our ‘outstanding’ reputation and deliver excellent care to the communities in Sussex
- Have stronger leadership, governance and structures, enabling us to move forward quickly and keep improving care for patients
- Design services at the appropriate scale for our local communities, supporting the delivery of the NHS Long-Term Plan
- Create more career opportunities across our hospitals for our people
- Continue our closer collaboration and sharing of resources as we restore services and manage our ongoing response to the covid pandemic.
“As you know, last October WSHT became the first non-specialist acute hospital trust to be awarded outstanding in all the CQC’s key inspection areas.
“During the last three years BSUH became the fastest improving acute hospital trust in England and is now rated good overall and outstanding for caring.
“The next steps are the development of a full business case with staff, partners, governors, members and local communities involved in creating the organisation needed now and in future.
“As we move forwards together, our ambition is to continue to deliver outstanding local care as well as new specialist services to our patients.
“Together we will create a vibrant, supportive organisation for staff to develop, innovate and build their careers.
“I will update you on progress but please be assured there will be opportunities for you to ask any questions you have and feed into the future plans.
“This promises to be a new and exciting chapter for WSHT and BSUH. My thanks to you all for your commitment and ongoing support as we move forwards.”