Hunt urged to intervene to halt merger moves for hospital trust

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HEALTH Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been urged to intervene to halt moves threatening the independence of a troubled Yorkshire NHS trust.

A team of turnaround experts controversially called in to run the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust is drawing up a range of options to secure the future of the organisation which has run into financial difficulties.

Options include merging with another NHS trust, as well as a major reconfiguration of its services, prompting interim chief executive Mike Morgan to write to other NHS organisations to inquire if they want to work with Rotherham on drawing up measures, which would have a knock-on impact on neighbouring hospitals.

It is believed hospital chiefs were ordered by regulator Monitor to look at a merger as part of a recovery plan due to be completed by the end of the year. Three Labour MPs covering the town say they are pressing for a meeting with Monitor bosses to challenge the instruction.

They are also writing to Mr Morgan opposing a merger, expressing concerns it could lead to cherry-picking of Rotherham’s hospital services by other providers, fragmentation of care and could even leave the town without a proper hospital.

Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey confronted Mr Hunt over the issue in the Commons, demanding he intervene. If a merger was proposed, the Government’s new Competition Commission could be asked to approve the move.

He said: “A merger would mean services taken out of Rotherham and patients having to travel further, and it would mean decisions about our services in Rotherham being taken by others.

“The trust board, chair and chief executive should turn round and tell Monitor it’s a non-starter in Rotherham and not needed.”

Mr Healey has launched a campaign to keep NHS services in Rotherham, which has already attracted 2,000 signatures.