Two foundation trusts that mainly provide mental health services in Essex have had a long-awaited merger approved.
The merger involves South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust and North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.
“The result has only been made possible through the tremendous amount of hard work by very many of our staff”
Both trusts will be dissolved on 31 March and be replaced from 1 April by an organisation called Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.
A joint statement said the merger was given a “green” risk rating after assessment by the regulator NHS Improvement, which is the best possible score.
It added: “There will be no immediate changes to services. It will be ‘business as usual’ for service users and carers for the foreseeable future.”
However, the new trust is planning “significant” service reconfiguration later this year. A paper discussed at Essex county council’s February board meeting said a public consultation would take place between October 2017 and March 2018, ahead of a new service model going live in April 2018.
The chief executive of the new trust’s interim board will be Sally Morris, currently chief executive of South Essex Partnership.
She said: “The result has only been made possible through the tremendous amount of hard work by very many of our staff, patients, carers and the support of our NHS and local authority partners, and we are extremely grateful to everyone involved.”
Chris Butler, interim chief executive of North Essex Partnership, added: “In coming together, both trusts have put first what serves the best long-term interests of people with mental health problems and those who care for them.
“I am absolutely convinced that the merger will ensure the sustainability of mental health services for the people of Essex,” he said. ”People will see no disruption in the services they receive, but the merger is a great springboard to develop with our partners ever better health and social care services.”
In 2015 Health Service Journal reported that the merger plans were being driven by fears that the two trusts were unsustainable, and amid concerns commissioners were considering substantial service cuts.