STRUCTURE: Two Surrey trusts could merge as early as the summer after their boards decided to press ahead with revised plans.

The boards of Royal Surrey County Hospital Foundation Trust and Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals Foundation Trust agreed to continue with the merger yesterday, after plans were reviewed in the light of the worsening financial position of the Royal Surrey, which is now predicting a deficit over £7m this year.

A report to the Ashford board yesterday said: “Our teams have been working together to review more ambitious options for the clinical strategy of the combined organisation.”

The plans – which had already been approved by the Competition and Markets Authority – will now go to Monitor before being scrutinised again by the boards and governors of the two trusts. The trusts are currently holding public meetings to explain the merger.

Peter Dunt, chief executive of the Royal Surrey County Hospital, said: “Both boards have spent considerable time and energy scrutinising these plans to ensure they are fit for purpose and will ensure a new organisation that is sustainable and successful for our patients.”