Barnet and Chase Farms Hospitals Trust has announced it is seeking a merger partner to become a foundation trust.

The news came in a letter to staff this afternoon in which the chair and chief executive said the cost pressures on the trust made a stand-alone foundation trust bid unviable.

The letter, seen by HSJ, said: “The trust faces very significant financial pressures over the next few years, making it impossible to produce a credible long-term financial plan that will meet the exacting requirments of Monitor.

“A partnership with another organisation gives us the potential to unlock further efficiency opportunities.”

Both University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust and the Royal Free London Foundation Trust have been mentioned as potential merger partners by senior figures in the capital.

HSJ understands the merger will not consider a private Circle-style management franchise bid.

In April the health secretary ruled out allowing the trust to merge with neighbouring North Middlesex University Hospital Trust.

North Middlesex this afternoon confirmed to its staff that its board would consider a stand-alone foundation trust bid at its next meeting.

North Middlesex is due to absorb much of the work currently done by Barnet and Chase Farm once the Chase Farm site is downgraded, as part of the Barnet, Enfield and Haringey clinical strategy.

In the letter chief executive Mark Easton and chair Baroness Wall of New Barnet said the proposal would be presented to the board on 13 July and if it is approved “a change to organisational form would be unlikely to take place until the end of 2013”.

They added: “Until this work is complete we will have an open mind as to which organisations might offer the best partnership opportunities.”