NHS Trust board gives seal of approval for Yeovil District Hospital and Somerset FT merger business case

The board of directors at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust yesterday (Tuesday 8 November) approved the business case to support the planned merger between the two NHS trusts at its public board meeting.

The new NHS trust will provide acute care and treatment from Yeovil District Hospital and Musgrove Park Hospital, community-based services, including the county’s 13 community hospitals, and mental health and learning disabilities across Somerset.

In addition, it will run 16 GP practices through the Symphony Healthcare Services subsidiary.

The business case describes a series of plans that set out the benefits of the merger for patients and what it will mean in practice. Following this approval, it will be reviewed by the regulatory body, NHS England.

If the business case is given the go-ahead by NHS England, then it’s intended that the two trusts will merge, subject to feedback, on 1 April 2023.

The new organisation will be called ‘Somerset NHS Foundation Trust’. The decision to keep the name of one of the trusts was made following extensive engagement of NHS colleagues at both trusts, as well as people and organisations with an interest in the local NHS, and members of the public.

Peter Lewis, chief executive of Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said the approval by the trusts’ respective boards was a key milestone for in the process to merge.

“I’m pleased that our trust boards have given our planned merger a seal of approval,” he said. “By joining together as one NHS trust, we will be able provide better mental and physical health services for people, wherever they live in Somerset and the surrounding areas, through improved access to the specialist care and treatment they need, when they need it.

“In Somerset we already have an older population compared with many other parts of the country, and this is set to increase - in some parts of the county, more than half of all residents will be aged over 65 by 2033. This means there’ll be more people living with multiple, complex conditions and requiring care, treatment and support from many different services.

“The number of people attending our hospitals for emergency or urgent care is increasing every year too and it’s becoming more challenging to meet this demand. We also know that we rely more upon inpatient care compared with other health systems and this is not always best for patients.

“By working as one NHS trust, and with our social care and voluntary sector partners, we will improve access to preventative care that helps people stay well and out of hospital, leading to better outcomes for this population.

“We will also develop stronger links between mental health and physical health services so people get the care and support they need, from the right service, at the right time.”

Example of teams successfully working together

One example of how being one organisation will enable NHS colleagues in Somerset to work together more efficiently and improve care, is the trusts’ diabetes service.

Currently, both Yeovil District Hospital and Somerset FT have a diabetes service that includes inpatient beds, and both trusts run specialist outpatient clinics and provide advice to GPs.

Alongside this, Somerset FT provides a diabetes community intermediate care service for the whole county.

The diabetes teams coming together has resulted in some great benefits for patients, such as the development of diabetes prevention and remission programmes, an online platform and the trial of virtual multi-disciplinary team meetings with the county’s GP practices.

Together, a single care pathway for people with diabetes has been created that ensures seamless care between different settings, like community services and care in hospital.

You can read more about the planned merger, including the full business case, here.