TWO hospital trusts could merge into one £1.2 billion trust next year.

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WSHT) and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (BSUH) are proposing to become one trust in April.

The two trusts run hospitals in Brighton, Haywards Heath, Worthing, Shoreham and Chichester, as well as other patient services across Sussex.

If the merger goes ahead, the new trust would run five hospitals and employ some 20,000 staff, caring for 1.8 million people in Sussex with a budget of £1.2 billion.

Chairman of the BSUH and WSHT boards Alan McCarthy said: “The pandemic has taught us the value of working together. Being able to provide assistance and share resources was hugely beneficial and as one organisation we’ll be able to do this seamlessly.

“A merger will also enable us to provide the very best clinical services and invest more in new ones, work better with our partners whilst ensuring all our hospitals remain at the heart of the communities they serve.”

In October last year, WSHT became the first non-specialist acute hospital trust to be rated “outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission in all key inspection areas, while BSUH has an overall rating of “good”.

Deputy chief executive and chief medical officer, Dr George Findlay, said: “This is not a merger driven by financial decisions, it’s driven by a will to keep improving.

“By working together we have greater opportunities to learn and improve our services to make them more sustainable for the local population.

“We can also maintain more specialist services in Sussex, meaning fewer patients have to travel to other hospitals to receive high quality care.”

The trusts are inviting people to give their views on the proposal by completing an online survey.

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