Rotherham hospital trust merger proposal

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The NHS trust which runs Rotherham Hospital is considering merging with neighbouring health bodies as it seeks to recover from financial problems.

Rotherham Hospitals NHS Trust has been told by the Government’s regulator Monitor that it must look at merger as one of the options for its ‘recovery plan’, which the hospital has to submit to Monitor by the end of the year.

Financial woes at the trust led to an announcement last year that up to 750 jobs could be lost - although the planned redundancies have since been scaled back significantly after protests.

The hospital trust must save £50 million by 2015.

Interim chief executive Michael Morgan has written to other local hospitals saying ‘reconfiguration of Rotherham hospital services and a merger with another trust’ are options on the table.

But plans to merge Rotherham Hospitals with a neighbouring NHS trust have been met with criticism from the town’s three Labour MPs.

Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey has launched a campaign to keep NHS services in Rotherham, and more than 2,000 people have already signed a petition in support.

In Parliament, Mr Healey challenged Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on the issue.

He said: “A merger could take services out of Rotherham.”

Mr Healey was also concerned about decision-making no longer being dealt with locally - and concerned about some services being ‘cherry picked’ by competing private health companies.

“It could even lead to Rotherham being left without a hospital,” he said.

Mr Hunt said the authorities will make decisions based on what is in the ‘best interests of patients’ - and will not hold competition as an ‘overriding ideology’.