Merged hospital trust must include both St Richard's & Worthing names
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has registered his “strong objection” to the proposed name for a new merged Trust that will manage St Richard’s and Worthing Hospitals from 1 April this year.
Mr Herbert has lodged his objection in a letter to the Chief Executives of the Royal West Sussex NHS Trust, which manages St Richard's, the Worthing and Southlands Hospitals NHS Trust and the South East Coast Strategic Health Authority (SHA) following their proposal that the new body should be called the ‘Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust'.
The name has been chosen by the Trusts and the SHA to "ensure it reflects our place alongside other regional health providers".
On Wednesday (25 February), the SHA's Board will meet to confirm its support for the merger of the two Trusts. It will then report to the Department of Health, who will have the final say on whether the merger can go ahead.
Mr Herbert, whose Arundel and South Downs constituents are served by St Richard's, Worthing and Southlands hospitals, has also written to Health Secretary Alan Johnson asking him to consider his comments before approving the proposed merger.
In his letter to the Trusts and SHA, Mr Herbert said: "This is the first time that the proposed name has been made known to me and I am writing to register my strong objection to it. I have been suggesting for some time now that the new Trust should incorporate the names of both merged hospitals so that it is called the St Richard's and Worthing Hospitals NHS Trust or the Worthing and St Richard's Hospitals NHS Trust.
"Incorporating the existing names would, I believe, be a clear demonstration that both hospitals will continue to offer a full range of consultant-led acute services on their sites - the basis on which this merger has been presented to the local community. I can see no convincing case against using the existing names, whereas discarding them will inevitably invite suspicion that there is no genuine commitment to maintain acute services on both sites."
Mr Herbert said he hoped that both the Trusts and the SHA would reconsider the name and demonstrate their "unequivocal commitment" to both hospital sites. He continued: "Should this proposal be rejected, I would be grateful for an explanation of the reasons so that I can relay them to my constituents. I will not feel able to maintain my support for the merger or lend support for foundation status for the new Trust if I believe that there is no real intention of maintaining a full range of services at both St Richard's and Worthing hospitals."
The views of Mr Herbert have been echoed by other West Sussex MPs, including East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton and Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie.
Notes for Editors
1. Marianne Griffiths has been appointed, in principle, as Chief Executive of the new merged Trust from 1 April 2009.
2. For the website of the South East Coast SHA, visit http://www.southeastcoast.nhs.uk/.