Update on the Future of Weston General Hospital

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March 5, 2015 by Protect Our NHS

The following is a letter sent to staff at Weston General Hospital from the NHS Foundation Trust which is hoping to take it over. You will note that it looks like nothing will be completed until 2016.

Trust Management
Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust
Musgrove Park Hospital

Dear colleagues,

It has been a little while since it was announced that Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust (Musgrove Park Hospital) was the preferred bidder to acquire Weston Area Health NHS Trust (Weston).

I understand that processes such as this can be unsettling for all those involved and so we want to apologise for not communicating more widely with you sooner. This was because we were clarifying the process around the acquisition and wanted to be able to be clear with all colleagues on both sites.

With that in mind, as the lead executive for the Weston initiative, I wanted to share with you all our vision for how we want the health services in Taunton and Weston to work and explain some of what we have been doing so far to determine how we plan to amalgamate both organisations.

I am sure that you will understand that a transaction of this nature has many complexities, but I would like to assure you that we are committed to progressing this work in as timely a way as possible. Our aim is to do this in a way that minimises uncertainty, and most importantly ensures that we continue to deliver high quality care to our patients across both sites.

Our vision for Weston and Taunton

The first thing we all want to know from any change is ‘what does this mean for me?’

Firstly we want everyone to be assured that the motives and intentions for this acquisition are to improve access to healthcare for the people of North Somerset. Our vision for this process is quite simple:

“To secure the clinical and financial sustainability and viability of acute hospital services provided for the population of North Somerset and Somerset, to improve the experience and outcomes for patients, and to ensure that services in Weston and Taunton are integrated to the benefit of both Trusts and the populations which they serve.”

To do this we are clear that we are going to need all the talent that both hospitals have to make this acquisition a real success. Learning from other acquisitions in the past, it simply does not work for an organisation to just take over another and dictate change to the way it is run. This leads to failure. Clearly as we move to becoming a new organisation there will be changes and we are committed to working in partnership and taking the best people and practices forward.

Preferred bidder – work to date

Part of the work undertaken so far has been to put processes and plans in place that will enable us to create a way forward and amalgamate both our organisations. We also needed to get the right people working on this project and appoint suitable external support to help us.

You may have noticed in recent weeks that some colleagues from Musgrove Park Hospital have been on site with perhaps yourself or colleagues to discover more about the services you provide, understand the really good things about your work and the Trust, and also identify any areas that we can work on together to make improvements.

These meetings and conversations are part of our ‘Due Diligence’ process – an investigation conducted to assure ourselves that we know every detail and aspect of the work Weston undertakes.

This means that the project team working on the acquisition can then put together a sound and sensible business case demonstrating how it can take over running of the hospital and how things might work together in the first few years. This will then be considered by our Trust Board and by Monitor (the regulatory body for Foundation Trusts). Our Council of Governors then have an important role in reviewing the recommendation of the Board.

Working together

For this acquisition to be successful now and in the future, both Trusts and all our colleagues within them will need to work together to deliver a joint vision for the communities we serve. Only by working together can we find solutions to how we can best deliver excellent care, work more efficiently, innovatively and collaboratively, while offering the best value for money services possible.

We will also need to work closely with our commissioners to develop models of care that support their plans for care across our communities. Any proposal as part of the acquisition will only be achievable and sustainable in the future with their support.

The Project Team cannot decide alone what those solutions are. We need the knowledge and support from teams and colleagues at both Weston and Taunton on how you see the best way forward for your specialist areas. That is why it is so important that everyone gets involved in the discussions.

To kick-start this process, and to give you the opportunity to find out more about the acquisition and ask questions a series of informal drop in sessions are being arranged on site at both hospitals. Details of these will be shared with you all shortly.

Kind regards

David Allwright
Director of Corporate Planning and Performance

Current timetable:

This is the timetable we are currently working towards. Given past experience of NHS transactions this is an ambitious undertaking, which we are committed to working hard to deliver but, of course, this might change due to factors beyond our control:

Integration Plan, Long Term Financial Model (LFM) and Full Business Case (FBC) complete and approved by TSFT Trust Board 27th July 2015
Clearance of acquisition by Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) Late August 2015
New Trust constitution developed and approved September – October 2015
Development and sign-off of Business Transfer Agreement (BTA) September – October 2015
TSFT Governor approval November 2015
Monitor Board issue risk rating then, a few days later, give final approval
Expected to be complete 2015/16
DH and Treasury approval
Dissolution and transfer process
Day 1 of new organisation

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