• Tony Spotswood to leave Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Foundation Trust
  • Mr Spotswood has led the trust for 19 years
  • Trust currently involved in merger with neighbour organisation

The longest serving chief executive of an acute trust has announced he will step down ahead of a proposed merger of his organisation with a neighbour trust.

Tony Spotswood will leave Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Foundation Trust at the end of December after 19 years at the organisation.

The trust is currently undergoing a second attempted merger with Poole Hospital FT, under plans which would see Bournemouth become an emergency hospital and Poole an elective hospital.

As part of this merger, the trusts will appoint a joint interim chair and chief executive. These appointments are expected to be confirmed in mid-December. Mr Spotswood has announced he will not apply for the chief executive role.

Poole FT’s chief executive is Debbie Fleming.

Mr Spotswood, who is thought to be the longest serving CEO in the sector, said: “I have reached this personal decision after very careful reflection.

“It has been a privilege to lead our trust over the last two decades.

“I know that, working together, the teams across the two trusts are determined to ensure that they will provide outstanding care as our plans to create the new emergency and planned care hospitals take shape over the coming months.”

The two trusts first attempted to merge in 2013, but the scheme was blocked by the Competition Commission, now the Competition and Markets Authority.

But a second attempt began early in 2017, coinciding with the two trusts being allocated £147m for a reconfiguration of their services.

Both trusts believe merging will make it easier to deliver that reconfiguration.

In September, the High Court dismissed a legal challenge from campaigners to stop the project. 

Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals FT is rated as “good” by the Care Quality Commission.