STRUCTURE: The Co-operation and Competition Panel are inviting submissions from interested parties about the three-trust merger by June 15th.

The CCP will then assess whether the plans are allowed under Principle 10 of the Principles and Rules for Cooperation and Competition, which says: “Vertical integration is permissible when demonstrated to be in patient and taxpayers’ best interests and protects the primacy of the GP gatekeeper function; and there remains sufficient choice and competition to ensure high quality standards of care and value for money.”

A decision will be made by July 27th on whether the plans need a more detailed “Phase II” investigation.

A deadline of November 17th has been set for completing the Phase II investigation, if one is needed.

The proposed merger of three east London university hospital trusts would create an organisation with a turnover of more than £1bn.

If the merger goes ahead in the proposed form the organisations will become one in April 2012.