STRUCTURE: NHS East of England has asked Monitor to reject recommendations by the Cooperation and Competition Panel and “expedite” the merger of two mental health providers in the region on patient safety grounds.

Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Foundation Trust had proposed the aquisition of Suffolk Mental Health Trust, but the CCP ruled that the plan would be anti-competitive.

An update of the strategic health authority’s provider development board (PDB), submitted to its July board meeting, noted there was seperate concerns over care at Suffolk. It said: “Notwithstanding their good performance against service targets the PDB has previously highlighted concerns regarding clinical governance, relations between the trust leadership and medical staff, safety, homicides, ligature point reviews and inadequate medical records.”

Regarding the merger, it said: “The SHA has written to Monitor asking it to reject the national Cooperation and Competition Panel’s (CCP) recommendation that the merger of Suffolk Mental Health with Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Foundation Trust is not approved.

“We have asked Monitor to expedite the merger to ensure that the improvements in governance and patient safety are maintained and not lost. Monitor will make a decision on the merger in September.”

The report also revealed that delivery of the Suffolk trust’s performance turnaround plan had been “tied to” payments under the Commissioning for Quality and Innovation scheme.

“There is good progress with the action plan but changes need to be embedded”, it said.