The national NHS Five Year Forward View asks Trusts and commissioners to work together more to improve services; a direction which is also strongly supported by the Essex Mental Health Review and the Essex Success Regime.
In 2015, North Essex Partnership (NEP) and South Essex Partnership Trust (SEPT) worked together on specific projects and were successful in a joint bid to provide a new Essex-wide substance misuse service. Options for closer collaboration were discussed at both Trusts’ Board meetings in September 2015. It was agreed to explore a potential merger, beginning with assessing whether this would be likely to increase benefits for patients, carers, staff and the wider community. Workshops were held with clinicians and managers from both Trusts. In December 2015, the Boards considered the exploration work and agreed to progress to “actively pursuing” a proposed merger.
No final decisions to merge the two Trusts have been made yet. Both Trusts are firmly committed to acting only in the best interests of the people using our services, their families and carers. This will be the deciding factor in any decisions. In the meantime, it remains “business as usual” for both Trusts for the foreseeable future.
An Outline Business Case (OBC) for merger was submitted to the NHS Foundation Trusts’ regulator (then called Monitor) in January 2016. A summary of this document is available on this page. Monitor’s review did not identify any problems that would stop proposals progressing to the next stage. The next step was for staff from both Trusts to carry out a comprehensive due diligence process. As a result, by the end of June 2016, the Trusts had shared a significant amount of information with each other about their services and organisations and identified any risks which may impact on the new organisation.
Following the review of the Outline Business Case for the proposed merger by Monitor (now called NHS Improvement), both Trust Boards agreed to progress to developing a Full Business Case. The Full Business Case demonstrates the anticipated benefits of the proposed merger – in particular, the benefits to patients and service users. These would include a better ability to recruit and retain key clinicians; better access to more specialist expertise; fewer out-of-area placements and co-production of a proposed new clinical model for mental health care with staff, commissioners, service users and carers. The public version of a prospectus for the proposed new Trust is available on this page.
The Full Business Case was approved by both Boards of Directors at their meetings at the end of November 2016 for submission to NHS Improvement for their review and rating. We expect to receive their response in March 2017. Both Trust Boards and Councils of Governors will consider the outcome of this review when making their decisions in March 2017. All being well, this timetable would allow for the proposed new organisation to be authorised and operational from April 2017.
We are continuing to engage with our stakeholders on aspects of merger planning. We engaged with staff and Members on the choice of name for the proposed new Trust – Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) – and in developing the proposed new vision and values. We have also established a Stakeholder Reference Group of service users and carers from both Trusts to work with us in a co-productive way. If you have lived experience of our services, or are a carer, and would like to be involved with our Stakeholder Reference Group, please contact email@example.com