STRUCTURE: The London/Surrey borders acute trust is working with the King’s Fund to examine options for St Helier Hospital.

The trust last year concluded it would not reach foundation trust status on its own and sought merger partners.

The future of the hospital was thrown into doubt when neighbouring St George’s Healthcare Trust dropped its bid to take over the hospital.

Ashford and St Peter’s Foundation Trust are still in line to merge with Epsom Hospital.

Epsom and St Helier chief executive Matthew Hopkins said: “We are absolutely committed to the long-term future of St Helier, and to continuing to deliver the best and most efficient services for our patients and local people. 

“The King’s Fund’s reputation is second to none and we are delighted to have enlisted their support and expertise as we identify a long-term solution for the future of St Helier. They will be invaluable in helping us to think innovatively about what we can do to ensure our services are sustainable, and financially viable, in the years to come.”

A list of options for the future of the hospital is expected in July 2012.

Nigel Edwards, senior fellow in leadership development and health policy at the King’s Fund, is working with the trust.

In a statement he said: “Even though these are clearly unsettling times for St Helier, I have been very impressed by the ongoing commitment of the leadership team I have met so far to providing the very best care to their patients. 

“The NHS is witnessing a period of unparalleled change. We want to work with organisations who are thinking innovatively, and bring to the table our knowledge and expertise. By doing this, there is an opportunity to develop some of the new and radical solutions that are required to deal with the challenges that many NHS organisations now face.”