Suffolk/Norfolk: New mental health chief confident merger will go ahead despite setback

SUFFOLK: A health chief today said he was confident the merger of Norfolk and Suffolk’s mental health trusts will still go ahead despite a competition panel recommending it does not proceed.

The Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust has entered the next phase of the process for merging with neighbouring Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, with a business case and integration plan submitted in March to Monitor, a key NHS regulatory body. A final decision from Monitor is due at the end of June.

An approval would allow the trusts to merge from July 1 at the earliest.

However, the Co-operation and Competition Panel (CCP) has recommended to Monitor that the merger does not go ahead, saying it would have an adverse effect on patient choice and competition, which was not outweighed by the potential �5.1million savings in three years.

Aidan Thomas, who is currently chief executive of the Norfolk mental health trust and acting chief executive of Suffolk too, said: “CCP has delivered its advice which was that it would not recommend the merger to Monitor, which is disappointing; however, this certainly doesn’t rule out or prevent the merger. The Strategic Health Authority supports the merger.”

The trusts expect 80 posts may be affected, but said they are trying to minimise the impact on staff.

n Should the merger go ahead? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

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