FINANCE: A proposed merger between Ealing Hospital Trust and North West London Hospitals Trust has been delayed by three months at a cost of £3m.

The delay cost - revealed in North West London’s June board papers - will allow the trust to ensure the financial model for the merger takes account of a 2014-15 contract agreement between the two

The extra three months will also allow the trusts to ensure the merger matched the Trust Development Authority’s national timetable for business plan submissions, a spokeswoman for North West London said.

Both trusts were, however, “continuing to look at opportunities to merge teams before 1 October where it is sensible to do so and to enable us to reduce costs”, she said.

The board papers stated that a failure to invest the extra £3m would cause a further delay to the merger. “Not to invest… would mean that it would not be possible to complete and submit the full business case… to the TDA for gateway 4 approval to enable merger on 1 October 2014.”

The merger was expected to be completed in July, subject to approvals from the TDA and the secretary of state. This has now been pushed back to October, doubling the cost of the merger to £6m.

Under the current proposal, the merged trusts hope to post a £12.2m surplus by 2017-18, compared with a predicted combined deficit of £46.6m if the merger does not go ahead.