NHS Lewisham’s trust board has agreed to merge its community health services with Lewisham Hospital trust in an effort to eventually achieve foundation trust status.

A period of due diligence between the primary care trust and Lewisham Hospital trust to set out terms of the integration will now follow. Then the Department of Health’s co-operation and competition panel will decide whether to approve the merger

Under Commissioning A Patient-Led NHS, PCTs’ community provider arms are required to explore options and develop proposals for separation from their PCT.

NHS Lewisham chair Michael Richardson said: “This is a historic decision for the NHS and a pioneering move by Lewisham. Through our performance monitoring role, we will ensure that the community and hospital parts of the new organisation are treated with equal importance.”

Lewisham Hospital trust chair Bala Gnanapragasam said: “The new integrated healthcare organisation will enable us to provide a seamless service to our patients from primary through to secondary and specialist care, overcoming any organisational barriers.”