TWO NHS hospital trusts are to merge into one trust with a budget of more than £1 billion.

Western Sussex Hospitals Trust (WSHT) and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust (BSUH) will merge to form a new, larger organisation called University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, caring for 1.8 million people across Sussex.

For the past four years the two trusts have been operating under a joint management contract, which expires today.

University Hospitals Sussex will employ nearly 20,000 people and will run hospitals in Chichester, Worthing, Shoreham, Haywards Health and Brighton and Hove, as well as other community services.

BSUH chief executive Dame Marianne Griffiths DBE said: “This is a momentous day for healthcare in Sussex.

"As both a university hospital and foundation trust, we will have all the tools we need to develop outstanding services for our communities, offer exciting new career opportunities for our colleagues and continue to put local people at the heart of our decisions and plans.

“The recent success of both trusts has given us a great foundation to build on and we have seen the enormous advantages of working more closely together through the partnership we have built over the last four years.

"Those benefits have been underlined by the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, and we know we can do great things together that we could not achieve alone."

BSUH came out of financial special measures in 2018 and has become the fastest improving acute hospital trust in England. In 209 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”.

The new trust will be responsible for all district general acute services for Brighton and Hove, West and Mid Sussex and parts of East Sussex.

It will also provide specialised and tertiary services across Sussex and parts of the South East, including neuroscience, arterial vascular surgery, neonatology, specialised paediatric, cardiac, cancer, renal, infectious diseases and HIV medicine services.