• Plan for both trusts to merge has been cancelled
  • They will continue to operate as stand alone organisations
  • Operational challenges cited as a key reason

Nottingham University Hospitals Trust will no longer pursue a merger with Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust, the trusts have announced.

The development emerged today at a meeting of Sherwood Forest Hospitals board and was confirmed to HSJ by a spokesman for the Nottingham trust.

Both organisations have cited the need to focus on “operational challenges” as the main reason for shelving the plans which were due to be completed this year.

Peter Homa, chief executive of the Nottingham trust stepped down from his dual role as chief at Sherwood Forest last month, just four months after taking on the role.

Louise Scull, who has been chair for both trusts since June, also stood down along with joint chief nurse Mandie Sunderland after the merger was pushed back until 2017.

In a statement Nottingham University Hospitals said the two organisations were “no longer pursuing a formal merger and will continue to operate as standalone organisations”.

It added: “Both trusts remain committed to working in partnership where it adds value to patient care and results in better ways of working. The main reason for this decision is the requirement for each organisation to focus on operational challenges. For NUH, this is improving 4-hour performance for emergency patients and addressing its financial challenges, whilst SFH will focus on continuing to embed and build on the significant improvements delivered over the past year.

“SFH and NUH are working together with NHS Improvement, to determine how the partnership will progress over the next few months and beyond, ensuring alignment with Nottinghamshire’s sustainability and transformation plan, which describes the five year strategy for the health and social care system.”

In June this year Mr Homa told HSJ the newly formed organisation would not take on Sherwood Forest’s £2.5bn PFI debt. He said: “We have made it very clear that a requirement for NUH to merge with Sherwood Forest is that the additional costs associated with the PFI are dealt with separately – that this is not a mortgage that we take on.” He said the debts would be dealt with “nationally”.

However, a spokeswoman for Nottingham trust told HSJ: ”I can confirm that the PFI debt is not a reason for the merger not happening in the short-medium term.”