Published: 30/05/2002, Volume II2, No. 5807 Page 7

Trust mergers set the organisations back 'at least two years' and their political aims have 'overridden some of the more rational objectives', a leading researcher has warned.

Naomi Fulop, director of the coordinating centre for service delivery and organisation research and developmental programme, said a study of London trusts two or three years after mergers had 'found significant unintended consequences'.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation's annual conference, she said 'most trusts failed to achieve the management cost savings which were one of the key objectives of the merger'.

Research had also 'found no evidence that they improved the situation around recruitment and retention' - another key objective.

Dr Fulop said: 'The political objectives of these mergers have overridden some of the more rational objectives. There was also a tendency for it to be a takeover rather than a merger.'

She said increasing the size of an organisation 'doesn't always have positive effects', and urged managers and policy-makers to 'think about alternatives to merger'.