STRUCTURE: Royal United Hospitals Bath Foundation Trust has taken over Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases FT after its proposal was approved by Monitor.

Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases FT jointly applied with the Bath trust for the takeover.

The rheumatic hospital has only 25 beds and has had serious financial difficulties for years. It was expecting to deliver a deficit of £1.9m by the end of the current financial year. Because of its small size it has been unable to generate enough income to cover the costs of patient services over the long term.

Bath

Royal United Hospitals Bath FT was awarded FT status in 2014

After reviewing the plans, the health sector regulator agreed that Royal United Hospitals Bath would be capable of maintaining and improving services for the patients of the rheumatic hospital.

James Scott, chief executive of the Bath trust, told HSJ the reasons behind the takeover were “quite straightforward”.

He said: “I think we’re the only district general hospital that doesn’t have a rheumatology department because the rheumatology department is RNHRD. For many years we’ve had joint clinical services and we wanted to build on that.

“It seemed to make sense that rather than having two FTs in the city [and] one of them being the smallest FT in the country - there’s an economy of scale issue, particularly given that they’ve struggled financially for quite a few years now.”

Royal United Hospitals Bath was awarded FT status last year.

The acquisition will take place, and the board of RNHRD dissolved, on 1 February. All 350 RUH staff will move under transfer of undertakings protection of employment regulations, apart from five board members who Mr Scott said were “at risk of redundancy”.

David Bennett, chief executive of Monitor, said: “RNHRD provides unique and valued services for patients across England requiring rehabilitation and rheumatology care, and is well respected for its cutting edge research and development. We have approved this acquisition to ensure that patients of the RNHRD can continue to get the care they rely on.”

RNHRD chief executive Kirsty Matthews said: “Securing the future of our high quality services has been at the heart of planning for the acquisition and together we have achieved this objective as a result of the hard work and dedication of our teams. On behalf of the RNHRD trust board I would like to thank all our employees for their continued professionalism and commitment to maintaining high standards of care throughout and beyond this process.”