From 1 June 2011 Wiltshire Community Health services formally became part of Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (GWH NHS FT) following a merger of the two organisations. The merger sees GWH become responsible for the management of community health and maternity services across Wiltshire and parts of Bath and North East Somerset along with hospital based maternity services at the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
The decision to merge was formally ratified by the Trust Board on Thursday 26 May. Commenting on the decision, Dr Alf Troughton, Interim Chief Executive of Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “This is a significant milestone for both Wiltshire Community Health Services and GWH, but more importantly for people in Swindon and throughout Wiltshire. For some time we have wanted to work more closely with other parts of the NHS so we can provide patients with much more joined up care. Sometimes the artificial boundaries organisations inadvertently put up when patients move from the hospital into the community and vice versa can get in the way of giving patients the best care possible. It is our aim that this merger will remove some of those barriers and build on the good work that has been done to improve community health services in Wiltshire.
“This is a great opportunity for us to work with community colleagues, GPs, Local Authorities and our partners in the charity sector to stop patients feeling lost in the system. Whilst local people will not notice any immediate difference we hope that over time we will be able to improve the way we care for people both in hospital and in their own homes by bringing together the wealth of skills and experience of community staff with the expertise of staff based at the GWH.”
The merger involves almost 2,000 staff delivering £80m of services from more than 30 different sites and locations in Wiltshire and the surrounding areas including peoples’ own homes. It includes all the community hospitals, community nursing teams, occupational therapists, podiatrists, physiotherapists, nutritionists, children’s nurses, wheelchair services, community dentistry and a range of other specialist services.
The merger also involves the maternity service and midwives, and will make GWH one of the largest providers of maternity services in the country. GWH will be responsible for the delivery of over 9,000 births, in the Swindon community, throughout Wiltshire (apart from Salisbury Hospital) and parts of North East Somerset. This includes the maternity services within the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
Jeff James, Chief Executive of NHS Wiltshire said: “The transfer represents a significant development for Wiltshire Community Health Services and is the culmination of a huge amount of hard work on everyone’s part. Wiltshire patients will see no change in the high quality of care they receive, Wiltshire Community Health Services staff will remain based at their normal place of work and business will continue as usual”.
As a Foundation Trust GWH is a membership based organisation accountable to local people through its members and a Council of Governors. The Trust has over 12,000 members and is keen to ensure that local people are given the chance to influence the way these local community health services are delivered in the future. Local people interested in having a say on how services are run can email: email@example.com to become a member or visit: www.gwh.nhs.uk
Background to the merger
In 2010 the Government announced that from April 2011 PCTs should no longer provide NHS services. In August 2010 NHS Wiltshire announced its intention to transfer responsibility for WCHS to another local NHS organisation. Local NHS organisations were invited to submit a proposal to run these services and GWH was subsequently chosen by NHS Wiltshire as the preferred provider.