COMMERCIAL: A pathology merger between two North West trusts is clear to go forward after Monitor judged it posed no threat to competition.

Monitor said the merger between Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust and St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust was “not likely to have an adverse effect on patients as a result of a loss of competition” in pathology services.

It found that while there are around 1,000 GP practices located within 60 minutes’ drive time of both trusts that could lose a potential pathology provider through the merger, GPs would still have a choice of at least five possible providers.

Similarly Monitor found that the 40 healthcare providers who could potentially contract with both trusts would still have a choice of at least six providers for non-urgent pathology services if the merger went through.

A spokesman for Southport and Ormskirk said the trust was “not yet in a position to comment further” on the next steps for the merger until it had spoken to its staff and St Helens and Knowsley.

The deal is the second pathology merger which Monitor has assessed in its new role to advise the NHS Trust Development Authority on the competition aspects of mergers only concerning NHS trusts.

In March it concluded that a pathology merger between Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals Trust and Surrey & Sussex Healthcare Trust was unlikely to lead to a loss of competition or to negatively impact patients.