STRUCTURE: The Co-operation and Competition panel has begun its consideration of the proposed merger between South West Ambulance Service Foundation Trust and Great Western Ambulance Service.

Great Western Ambulance Service advertised for a partner after the board decided it would not be capable of achieving foundation trust status alone.

SWASFT’s submission to the CCP said a merger would create an organisation more in line with the size of other ambulance services in England and allow the organisations to offer “more clinical specialist services to patients while delivering additional efficiencies and increasing its effectiveness as a competitor against private providers and larger ambulance service trusts”.

The submission said: “For example, the individual trusts cannot currently employ specialist clinicians (such as GPs, mental health specialists, specialists in the provision of care to people with learning disabilities and other specialists) in clinical hubs11, as the existing level of clinical mass at each individual trust is insufficient to justify that investment.”

The first phase of the CCP process, which will decide whether the proposal presents a significant reduction of patrient choice requiring a more in depth investigation, is due to complete by June.