Two foundation trusts in Surrey have announced a proposed merger to offer more specialist services and to establish a major emergency centre on one of the sites.

As a first step, the Royal Surrey County Hospital Foundation Trust and Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals Foundation Trust will draw up a full business case for the Competition and Markets Authority.

The trusts have been working together in several areas during the past 18 months, developing a chemotherapy service at Ashford Hospital and a round-the-clock stroke service.

Under the current proposals, no services will close and the major emergency centre will be established at St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey.

The trusts aim to increase the number of specialist services they offer to help reduce patient referrals to specialist services in London.

A joint consultant rota will set up across the two trusts to accelerate the introduction of seven day services.

The proposed merger is expected to take  up to 18 months to complete and must be approved by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Ashford is a medium-sized district general hospital trust with two sites – St Peter’s Hospital and Ashford Hospital. The Royal Surrey has one site in Guildford, which includes a specialist centre for cancer, oral & maxillo-facial surgery and pathology.

Andrew Liles, chief executive at Ashford & St Peter’s said:  “Improving patient care for people in Surrey has been at the heart of our partnership work over the last 18 months. At the same time, our clinicians have developed a joint clinical vision which describes clear benefits for patients through increased collaboration. Having considered a number of options on the best way to deliver high quality services to patients, our Boards have decided that the merger of our two organisations will provide the long-term, sustainable, high quality care that patients need.”

The chief executive of The Royal Surrey, Nick Moberly, added: “Moving towards a merger is exciting with lots of positive opportunities for both patients and staff and we are looking forward to getting on with the next steps.”