King’s Mill merger delayed into 2017

Kings Mill Hospital.
Kings Mill Hospital.

The planned merger of King’s Mill Hospital with a Nottingham-based NHS trust has been delayed into next year, it has been announced.

Bosses at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) have revealed that the move will now not take place until 2017.

When it was announced in February that NUH would be taking over the running of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (SFH), which runs King’s Mill and Mansfield Community Hospital, it was anticipated that the merger would take within months.

The move was triggered by a damning Government watchdog inspection into King’s Mill’s poor performance in 2015.

Peter Homa, chief executive of NUH and SFH, said: “We remain committed to merging SFH and NUH to form Nottinghamshire University Hospitals NHS Trust, knowing this is the right decision for patients, for staff and the Nottinghamshire health and social care system.

“The merger will enable the delivery of consistent standards of care to patients in Nottinghamshire and bring clinical and financial sustainability to our services over the longer-term.

“We aimed to complete the merger before the busy winter period when our hospitals are most pressured.

“However, despite our best efforts and the hard work of very many colleagues, it has not been possible to do so, as some of the work required to create the merged organisation is taking longer than expected, including the legal aspects.

“While this delay means both organisations will remain statutorily independent for longer, we will continue the strengthened management arrangements at SFH and use this period to maximise our preparedness and readiness for the merger in 2017.

“During this period of transition, we will further strengthen our joint working and where appropriate continue our work to integrate our services and functions, whilst ensuring each organisation gives proportionate attention to the immediate operational priorities. This includes SFH sustaining and building on recent safety and quality improvements and NUH improving its four-hour emergency access performance. Both trusts remain focused on improving their financial position and delivering their respective ‘control totals’ (deficit positions) that were agreed for 2016/17.”

Last year, the Chad revealed that King’s Mill was in a worse state than when it was first placed in special measures in 2013.

Following a CQC inspection in February, it emerged Sherwood Forest Hospitals had failed to improve in all but one of the 18 targets set in 2013 - while the trust was performing significantly worse in many areas.

Nottingham University Hospitals had competed with Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to take over the management of King’s Mill.

Peter Herring, managing director on Sherwood Forest Hospitals added: “While the timescales have been put back to next year, both trusts remain absolutely committed to the merger. Many improvements have been made across both trusts as a direct result of our partnership, and we will continue to prioritise programmes under way to deliver shared initiatives such as recruitment, to integrate key services where appropriate, and to keep on improving patient services.

“Merger remains the best option for Sherwood Forest Hospitals, where we continue to face major challenges in recruiting permanently to clinical roles such as nurses and pharmacists. It will give us the best opportunity to stabilise leadership, staff and services and continue to build on the excellent work we have already undertaken at SFH in turning around our performance following our CQC inspection last year.”