STRUCTURE: A report from Steve Smith, outgoing chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare, to his board said “high-level” talks between his trust and the specialist foundation trust had taken place.

It said: “A number of high-level discussions have taken place between the college, the trust and the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust to explore potential ways of enhancing collaboration and mutual support, especially given the financial pressures on the NHS and the proposed changes to cardiac paediatric surgery in England.”

A recent review of paediatric cardiac services proposed removing the services from RBHFT and other hospitals and concentrating them in a smaller number of trusts.

The trust said this could render it financially unviable.

An RBHT spokeswoman said; “While Imperial College is our closest academic associate and Imperial NHS Trust remains our key academic health science system partner, at no stage have discussions taken place about a merger of our two trusts. “