Views sought on plans to join NHS Trusts

Two NHS Trusts in Cumbria are seeking views on their plans to merge later this year to ensure the best results for staff and patients.

In 2018 Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) confirmed plans to merge the two organisations in a move designed to improve the experience of patients and staff in Cumbria. The trusts are today (26th March) starting a six week period of engagement with staff, other health and care organisations and members of the public to gather their views on the merger.

The trusts will be talking to staff in particular about the opportunities the merger will bring, any concerns they have and what areas they think should be prioritised. ‘A step towards happier, healthier communities’, the name given to the plans to merge, explains the benefits the merger will bring. These include:

  • High quality, seamless patient care between different services
  • Ensuring health services in Cumbria are fit for the future
  • Helping to recruit more staff to the area
  • Saving money by joining up support services and reducing duplication.

A shortlist of potential names is also being shared, giving all stakeholders a chance to pick their favourite. The below options have been developed in line national NHS naming guidelines:

  • Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust
  • Lake District NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Lake District NHS Foundation Trust

The trusts have been working closer together for some time and this has already had some positive results. Integrated Care Communities were developed across Cumbria to enable closer working between health services, GPs and adult social care, to help people to stay well and provide more out of hospital care. In north Cumbria this helped almost 200 people to avoid a hospital stay in the first six months, thanks to more support in the community.

Stephen Eames, chief executive of CPFT and NUCH, said:

“We have been talking to our staff, stakeholders and the public about the plans to merge for some time now and our boards have agreed that it is the right thing to do. We’ve listened to feedback and the view of many of our staff is that they just want us to get on with it. Some staff, particularly in south Cumbria, have expressed concerns about the future of their services and I want to make it absolutely clear that this is a priority. Any decisions will be made based on what is best for patients and staff.

“We’re now seeking further views to give everyone a chance to shape the merger and the new organisation. By gathering these we can maximise the benefits and address any concerns people have. Often the best ideas come from our frontline staff and service users so it is very important that we hear these.

“We have already seen some fantastic results from working closer together across the health and care system and the merger will enable us to progress these further as we work towards happier and healthier communities.”

The legal process for the merger, through our regulator NHS Improvement, is an acquisition of NCUH by CPFT. This is set out in the summary document we published in January and the joint board of directors are clear that this is a merger with both trusts being treated equally.

The merger coincides with plans to transfer the provision of mental health and learning disability services, currently delivered by CPFT, to other providers. In north Cumbria a full business case is being developed to transfer services to Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust. In south Cumbria discussions are still underway to agree the future of these services and updates will be shared as soon as they are available.

More information about the merger, including full details and a survey for any feedback, are available at: https://www.cumbriapartnership.nhs.uk/merger

Please note that all CPFT staff are automatically members of the Trust.