STRUCTURE: The Department of Health has granted Monitor more time to consider whether the benefits of service swaps between Bristol’s two acute trusts outweigh the loss of competition.

University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust and North Bristol Trust went ahead with long standing plans to centralise head and neck services at University Hospitals and breast care and urology at North Bristol Trust in March.

In April the Co-operation and Competition Panel, which is now part of Monitor, concluded the changes constituted a merger situation and could be anti-competitive.

The panel commenced a second stage review which was originally due to report this month.

Catherine Davies, executive director of cooperation and competition at Monitor, said: “The Department of Health has granted Monitor an extension to Phase II of this case, to allow sufficient time to assess the relevant patient benefits of the transaction. The revised deadline for this phase of the inquiry is 20 September 2013.”