A foundation chief executive has highlighted demonstrating a “can-do” attitude as a major factor in his successful bid to take over another trust.

South Essex Partnership University Foundation Trust chief executive Patrick Geoghegan was told last week that his trust had been selected to merge with Bedfordshire and Luton Mental Health and Social Care Partnership Trust after a rigorous bidding process.

It wasn’t an easy ride; they really tested us to the limit. We had to demonstrate a lot of qualities that we’d bring

The chair and non-executive board members at the acquired trust stood down en masse in February when it became apparent it would not achieve foundation status on its own, making it the first trust to invite other NHS organisations to take it over.

Mr Geoghegan, who has been running the trust as interim chief executive since last September, in addition to his role at South Essex, said: “We’re delighted. We had to show we were an organisation that could bring staff together, were innovative and had a ‘can-do’ culture. We’re the first in the country to do this so are very conscious that people are watching.”

Four organisations were shortlisted out of 21 which expressed interest in the acquisition.

The unsuccessful trusts were Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation Trust, Camden and Islington Foundation Trust and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust.

The takeover will now be considered by the Department of Health’s transactions board, the NHS Co-operation and Competition Panel and Monitor.

A decision will be made after two months, meaning a contract could be signed in November before the new, merged, foundation trust becomes operational on 1 April 2010.

Mr Geoghegan warned any trusts contemplating a similar move that “the workload was significant”.

He said: “It wasn’t an easy ride; they really tested us to the limit. We had to demonstrate a lot of qualities that we’d bring if we were successful, in particular a good track record in finance, and show very clearly that we could manage a very complex agenda.”