STRUCTURE: Epsom and St Helier University Hospital Trust on the Surrey/London border has announced Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals Foundation Trust and the Royal Surrey County Hospital FT are interested in merging with Epsom Hospital, with St George’s Healthcare Trust interested in St Helier Hospital.

As earlier reported by HSJ, the three trusts have now confirmed they have “formally shown an interest” in merging with the hospitals that comprise the trust.

All three organisations will now be invited to formally tender for the merger.

The trust said this process would start in July and conclude in September with a decision expected in October.

The news comes two days after the Government’s response to the Future Forum relaxed the ‘drop dead’ date of April 2014 for becoming a foundation trust.

Independent director of the merger’s Transaction Board Jon Sargeant said: “We are pleased to be able to announce the names of the hospitals that have shown an interest in merging with Epsom or St Helier. 

“In early July, they will be formally invited to tender and will need to put forward detailed proposals which demonstrate why they should be selected as the organisation to team up with the hospital they’re interested in. 

“These organisations will invest a lot of time and energy drafting their proposals and they’ll need to set out a clear vision for improving healthcare for our local population.”

He added: “It’s vital that local people, patients and staff help shape the final decision and their input into the development of the criteria used to assess the tenders will clearly steer the Transaction Board’s final recommendation.”