STRUCTURE: Frimley Park Hospital Foundation Trust is planning to acquire neighbouring Heatherwood and Wexham Park Foundation Trust at the beginning of April next year, HSJ has learned.

But the outline business case for the takeover, released under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that this timescale assumes the Office of Fair Trading will not refer the matter to the Competition Commission.

If such a referral is made, this will extend the timeframe by 24 weeks, the document says.

“There are no large scale service reconfigurations envisaged”, although clinical divisions will be restructured and shared across the new trust’s three sites. However, general medicine will remain site specific.

After the takeover the single trust will employ about 6,000 people. “There may be some reduction and changes in staff requirements through this process, though the exact changes have not yet been determined at this stage and may not become clear for some time,” the document says.

The business case also reveals Frimley Park has considered mergers or acquisitions of other local trusts.

These included Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust, which is itself the product of a foundation trust taking over a challenged neighbour. But the business case says Hampshire “is experiencing a challenging integration”, and is “no longer considered available for further enlargement”.

Ashford and St Peter’s and the Royal Surrey were also considered, but are in talks with each other, while consultancy McKinsey’s recommended the Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust as a long term partner for Frimley Park, but neither side was interested.