The landmark merger of Western Sussex Hospitals and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals goes ahead today (April 1), heralding the dawn of a new future for healthcare in Sussex.
The merger sees the best of both trusts brought together to create a new, larger organisation called University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust (UHSussex) which will further improve hospital services for patients in Sussex.
Chief executive Dame Marianne Griffiths DBE said: “This is a momentous day for healthcare in Sussex. As both a university hospital and foundation trust, we will have all the tools we need to develop outstanding services for our communities, offer exciting new career opportunities for our colleagues and continue to put local people at the heart of our decisions and plans.
“The recent success of both trusts has given us a great foundation to build on and we have seen the enormous advantages of working more closely together through the partnership we have built over the last four years. Those benefits have been underlined by the challenges of the COVID pandemic, and we know we can do great things together that we could not achieve alone.
“We will continue to invest in all our vibrant hospitals and all the services we currently provide, including emergency, specialist, tertiary and trauma care. We will continue to work closely with academic partners like the Brighton and Sussex Medical School to build on our existing reputation as a centre of excellence for training and education. And our new five year clinical strategy will explore where we can make the best improvements for our patients and develop new services that ensure fewer people in Sussex have to travel elsewhere for high quality hospital care.”
Key meetings of the boards of directors at both trusts took place in the middle of March when it was agreed a formal application to merge should proceed.
The board meetings marked the culmination of six months of planning as the trusts followed a rigorous process to assess the case for change. A strategic outline case was approved in September 2020 and it was in response to the submission of a full business case (FBC) that NHSEI wrote to the trusts on 9 March 2021 to provide a formal merger risk rating of Green (strategy) and Amber/Green (quality, finance and transaction execution).
WSHT and BSUH have been working together for four years under a joint management contract that expired on 31 March 2021. During this time, BSUH has become the fastest improving acute hospital trust in England, emerging from special measures and earning a Care Quality Commission rating of Good overall and Outstanding for caring. WSHT meanwhile maintained its own Outstanding status and also became the first non-specialist acute trust to achieve Outstanding ratings in all key inspection areas.
The new trust will build upon these achievements and further improve hospital services. For patients, these include greater continuity of care and better access to services, as well as increased support for services under pressure due to national challenges, such as increasing demand, workforce availability and financial pressures.
University Hospitals Sussex will employ nearly 20,000 people across five main hospital sites in Sussex, with an operating budget of more than £1 billion. It will run seven hospitals in Chichester, Worthing, Shoreham, Haywards Health and Brighton and Hove, as well as numerous community and satellite services. The trust will be responsible for all district general acute services for Brighton and Hove, West and Mid Sussex and parts of East Sussex. It will also provide specialised and tertiary services across Sussex and parts of the South East, including neuroscience, arterial vascular surgery, neonatology, specialised paediatric, cardiac, cancer, renal, infectious diseases and HIV medicine services.