Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust is to take over the running of community services in Lambeth and Southwark.

The boards of NHS Lambeth and NHS Southwark announced yesterday that Guy’s and St Thomas’ was their preferred partner for the formal integration of their provider arms.

The two primary care trusts began jointly seeking a partner to take over their community services in December.

NHS Lambeth chair Caroline Hewitt said: “In choosing Guy’s and St Thomas’ as our preferred partner we pass a significant milestone in the development of the best possible health services for the communities we serve.

“We believe that integration with Guy’s and St Thomas’ will help us deliver better patient care, achieve the vision and strategic objectives of our two PCTs and will be welcomed by staff.”

Guy’s and St Thomas’ chair Patricia Moberly added: “We firmly believe that closer integration between hospital and community services will bring many benefits to the many people who use our services.”

The Department of Health’s deadline for all PCTs to gain provisional approval from strategic health authorities for the future model of their community services is 31 March, with implementation to be completed by April 2011.

While the DH guidance on transforming community services offers several alternatives, at least four SHAs have told PCTs that vertical integration with an acute or mental health trust is the preferred option.