Merger of North London hospital trusts will ‘reduce waiting times’

North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust hopes merging with Royal Free London will help solve many of its recent problems, reports Grace Howarth, Local Democracy Reporter

North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust (left) wants to merge with Royal Free London NHS Trust (right)
North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust (left) wants to merge with Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust (right)

An NHS trust claims a proposed merger with another North London hospital group will help it to reduce waiting times and improve access to specialist care – after years of close collaboration.

North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust and Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust are in active talks over their proposed merger.

Over the coming months a business case will be drawn up, which will need approval from both trusts’ boards as well as NHS England. This is expected to be completed by summer and the organisations unified, if approved, in autumn. 

North Mid’s website says the trust has already been in a ‘formal partnership’ with Royal Free since 2021, and claims the Edmonton hospital could “achieve more” if it joined Royal Free, which runs Barnet Hospital, Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield and Royal Free Hospital in Camden.

The NHS trust explained that the Edmonton hospital would “continue to provide the same local services” as at present. This includes an accident and emergency department, maternity ward, intensive care, paediatrics, acute surgery, medicine and community services. 

It argues that following the merger, waiting times will be reduced, local access to specialist care improved, community services joined up, greater opportunities made available to benefit from the latest medical research, and more co-ordinated action, with screening and early intervention services tailored to its different communities.

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A North Mid spokesperson said: “Following several years of ever closer joint working, the boards of North Mid and the Royal Free London group have agreed to look at how we could come together as one organisation. 

“Our experience has shown that together we can deliver better care for local people and more opportunities for staff. 

“While our hospitals and community services would continue to provide the same local services, we believe joining together would enable us to go further and faster in improving services for patients and the health of our local community. 

“We are currently developing detailed plans for the proposed merger which will then need to be approved by the boards of both trusts and NHS England.”

However, a recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) report, following an inspection of North Mid’s leadership team, claimed that the extra workload around the merger plans was affecting the NHS trust’s management.

Jane Ray, CQC deputy director of operations in London, said despite finding the North Mid leadership team “skilled and committed” it had struggled to complete some of its work in a “timely manner” and needed to “better manage” the workload from the proposed merger.

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