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East Midlands acute trusts cancel merger plan, blaming 'operational challenges'

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Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust will no longer pursue a merger with Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the trusts have announced.

The development emerged yesterday at a meeting of Sherwood Forest Hospitals board and was confirmed to by a spokesman for the Nottingham trust.

Both organisations have cited the need to focus on “operational challenges” as the main reason for shelving the plans which were due to be completed this year.

Peter Homa, chief executive of the Nottingham trust stepped down from his dual role as chief at Sherwood Forest last month, just four months after taking on the role.

Louise Scull, who has been chair for both trusts since June, also stood down along with joint chief nurse Mandie Sunderland after the merger was pushed back until 2017.

In a statement, Nottingham University Hospitals said the two organisations were “no longer pursuing a formal merger and will continue to operate as standalone organisations”.

It said: “Both trusts remain committed to working in partnership where it adds value to patient care and results in better ways of working. The main reason for this decision is the requirement for each organisation to focus on operational challenges.

“For Nottingham University Hospitals, this is improving four-hour performance for emergency patients and addressing its financial challenges, whilst Sherwood Forest Hospitals will focus on continuing to embed and build on the significant improvements delivered over the past year,” said the statement.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

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Peter Homa

“Sherwood Forest Hospitals and Nottingham University Hospitals are working together with NHS Improvement, to determine how the partnership will progress over the next few months and beyond, ensuring alignment with Nottinghamshire’s sustainability and transformation plan, which describes the five year strategy for the health and social care system,” it added.

In June this year Mr Homa told Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal that the newly formed organisation would not take on Sherwood Forest’s £2.5bn private finance initiative debt.

He said: “We have made it very clear that a requirement for Nottingham University Hospitals to merge with Sherwood Forest is that the additional costs associated with the PFI are dealt with separately – that this is not a mortgage that we take on.” He said the debts would be dealt with “nationally”.

However, a spokeswoman for Nottingham trust said: “The PFI debt is not a reason for the merger not happening in the short-medium term.”

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