The first successful takeover of one foundation trust by another has received final approval, it was announced today.
Frimley Park Foundation Trust’s takeover of neighbouring Heatherwood and Wexham Park has been signed off by the regulator Monitor, with final formalities set to be completed before the end of the week.
It was also announced today that Frimley Park has become the first trust to be rated “outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission (see below).
“This decision is proof that acquisitions between foundation trusts that represent the right balance of patients’ interests are possible”
The new trust will be called Frimley Health Foundation Trust, and will come into being on 1 October. It will have a catchment population of 900,000 stretching across Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire.
Since the first foundation trust was established in 2004, there have been numerous instances of them taking over NHS trusts.
However, the only previous attempt to merge two foundation trusts was blocked last year by the Competition Commission, when Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals and Poole Hospitals were prevented from joining.
Frimley’s acquisition was originally planned to be completed in April this year, but was pushed back to accommodate scrutiny by the Competition and Markets Authority regulator. It was approved in May
Heatherwood and Wexham Park was placed in special measures by Monitor in May and has had severe financial and care quality problems for several years.
The merged foundation trust will receive around £100m from local clinical commissioning groups, NHS England and the Department of Health. It will be released over five years and pay for a rebuilt accident and emergency department and maternity unit at Wexham Park, IT systems and other upgrades.
The funding will also come with an expectation by commissioners that the trust will actively support the transformation of care for elderly people, including introducing enhanced out of hospital care.
Monitor chief executive David Bennett said: “This decision is proof that acquisitions between foundation trusts that represent the right balance of patients’ interests are possible. It also shows that early engagement with us is key.”
More success for Frimley Park
The Care Quality Commission today announced Frimley Park had become the first organisation to receive its top rating of “outstanding”.
An inspection report also published today found that the trust provided outstanding care in accident and emergency, medical care, surgery, critical care and end of life care.
It had the top rating for being caring, responsive and well led, and was rated “good” – the second best rating – for being safe and effective.