Merger is the name of the game in Kent at the moment.

While consortium commissioning is likely to see more - and smaller - groups of commissioners than at present, the county’s providers are going in the opposite direction.

The boards of Dartford and Gravesham Trust and Medway Foundation Trust last week formally announced they are “exploring” the option of merging.

The plan would aid Dartford and Gravesham to obtain foundation status as part of the new organisation but, as the joint press statement points out, it will also help meet “significant” financial pressures.

February board papers from the trust note that the “expectation from the joint PCTs was that £60m will be taken out of the acute sector over three years”.

Additionally, 1 April will see the creation of a new community provider, formed from the merger of Eastern and Coastal Kent Community Health Trust and West Kent Community Health.

The new organisation will cover the whole county except for the Medway area and be the largest community services provider in the country.

Community services have only recently undergone a reorganisation locally in Eastern and Coastal Kent. The PCT began realigning its community nursing teams with local better joint working and a reduction in workloads.

Meanwhile Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust - embroiled in a scandal in 2007 for outbreaks of C difficile linked to 50 deaths - has fallen behind on its yearly target for the infection.

A trust report states: “While rates of infection are still very low, we are experiencing a significant increase compared with last year.”