South Essex Partnership University and North Essex Partnership University foundation trusts have had their long awaited merger approved.

Both trusts will be dissolved on 31 March and be replaced by Essex Partnership University FT from 1 April.

A joint statement said the merger was given a green risk rating by NHS Improvement, which is the best possible score.

It added: “There will be no immediate changes to services. It will be ‘business as usual’ for service users and carers for the foreseeable future.”

However, as revealed by HSJ earlier this month, the new trust is planning “significant” service reconfiguration later this year. A paper discussed at Essex county council’s February board meeting said a public consultation would take place between October 2017 and March 2018, ahead of a new service model going live in April 2018.

The chief executive of the new trust’s interim board, Sally Morris, said: “The result has only been made possible through the tremendous amount of hard work by very many of our staff, patients, carers and the support of our NHS and local authority partners, and we are extremely grateful to everyone involved.”

HSJ revealed the merger plans in 2015 were being driven by fears that the two trusts were unsustainable, and amid concerns commissioners were considering substantial service cuts.