COMMERCIAL: University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust and North Bristol Trust are to start work to demonstrate the benefits to patients of their swapping services after the Co-operation and Competition Panel concluded it could be anti-competitive.

The panel announced last week that it was proceeding to a second-stage review of the trusts’ decision to centralise head and neck services at Univeristy Hospitals, and urology and breast care at North Bristol. The service swaps took place on 25 March.

In a joint statement the trusts said: “Following the CCP’s announcement that they will now proceed to a Phase 2 Review of the Tri-service move, North Bristol Trust and University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust will now commence work to demonstrate that the benefits for patients arising from these changes outweighs any adverse impact arising from the loss of choice and or competition.

“These planned changes have been developed over many years and are designed to significantly improve clinical outcomes for patients and to create the conditions for centres of excellence to develop and grow in Bristol. The development of these service changes has been led from the start by our senior doctors and nurses, and has involved patients, carers and the wider public in their design.”

The statement added the changes had been initiated by commissioners in line with the 2008 review High Quality Care for All, led by then health minister Lord Darzi.

The phase two review is due to be complete by August.

The panel said last week it had found in its first stage review that there was “a realistic prospect” the changes could “materially reduce competitive pressure” in each of the services by “removing a close competitor”. It said the reconfiguration constituted “merger transactions” because it would lead to previously independent services coming under common control.