Senior sources have told HSJ that The Royal Free London Foundation Trust is the best candidate to take over Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals Trust.

Although no approach has yet been made by either trust, senior figures from inside and outside the North Central London cluster of primary care trusts believe the Royal Free is the most viable suitor.

Sources at the Royal Free said the clinical and population health benefit would have to be made clear before the trust pursued any merger.

The full story is revealed in today’s HSJ Local Briefing.

Barnet and Chase Farm announced earlier this month it was giving up a bid to become an independent foundation trust after a financial modelling exercise showed the £351m-turnover organisation would not have be viable in the medium term.

The trust will be sending a letter inviting expressions of interest to all NHS providers withing 25-kilometres of its sites in Barnet and Enfield.

The organisational merger will not affect the Barnet, Enfield and Haringey clinical strategy approved by health secretary Andrew Lansley in September. This will see a number of services downgraded on the Chase Farm site and largely moved to North Middlesex University Hospital Trust in Edmonton.