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Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust and Medway NHS Foundation Trust are one step closer to merging
HOSPITAL services in Dartford, Gravesend and Medway are one step closer to merging, it has been announced.
Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust and Medway NHS Foundation Trust put forward proposals to merge around a year ago in a bid to reduce management costs and provide better frontline patient care.
The Cooperation and Competition Panel (CCP) has published its findings and recommended the integration should be allowed to proceed to the next stage.
Over the last nine months, the CCP has been considering the impact of integration on patient choice and competition.
The two hospital trusts have worked closely with the CCP throughout the process, along with GP commissioners, to ensure patient choice, competition between providers and the quality of services are protected.
Two specific services - non cancer urology and endocrine surgery - will require some additional measures to ensure choice is maintained after integration.
The trusts, CCP and local commissioners have agreed a number of measures to protect the high quality of those specific services.
Medical director of Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, Annette Schreiner, said: "We have worked very closely with the CCP over the last nine months, as part of the normal integration process.
"We have welcomed their in-depth look at the impact of integration on patient choice and competition, as we will only proceed with integration if it brings benefits to our patients and local communities, as well as long-term sustainability for our hospitals.
"We are very pleased that they are recommending our plans for integration be allowed to proceed to the next stage."
While medical director of Medway NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Gray Smith-Laing, said: "Patient choice is important to us and drives improvement in both quality of care and services.
"We have worked closely with the CCP and local commissioners to agree on a number of actions to support patient choice after integration and ensure that we maintain the high quality of elective non-cancer urology and endocrinology services."
The CCP’s recommendation will be taken into consideration by the Department of Health and Monitor, alongside the trusts’ plans when they are submitted.
If the merger is given the go-ahead, changes could be made in Spring next year.