North Mid board says ‘no’ to hospital merger

North Middlesex University Hospital will not become a member of the Royal Free London group

By Alastair Ball

North Middlesex University Hospital

The board of North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust have voted not to pursue a closer relationship with the Royal Free London group.

The unanimous decision was made last month, following an “engagement programme” involving staff, Haringey and Enfield councils, clinical commissioning groups, patient groups, the local community and other stakeholders.

Although the board reconfirmed the Trust’s commitment to continue as a partner of the Royal Free London group, Trust Chair Dusty Amroliwala said: “What we consistently heard is that… they [the stakeholders] do not want us to move into full membership of the Royal Free London group.”

The decision was greeted positively by community representatives. Healthwatch Haringey Chair, Sharon Grant, said: “This is a good decision. The North Mid should stay as a local hospital, meeting the needs of our community at the heart of a local health and care network.”

The board began to explore becoming a full member of the Royal Free London group in March 2018. In April 2018, work began on a “case for change,” which looked at the evidence for and against full membership and included the engagement programme.

Full membership was suggested to address a range of issues facing the hospital and the area it serves, including increasing population, high rates of long-term conditions, the diversity of deprivation across the catchment area, and staff recruitment and retention problems. A series of public and staff events have taken place since then, ultimately resulting in the board’s deci- sion not to seek a merger.

North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust Chief Executive Maria Kane said: “Although full membership is no longer on the table, I am delighted that the North Mid Board today reiterated its continued commitment to a strong and productive clinical partnership with the Royal Free London group.”

She added that: “We aim to develop this partnership so it delivers significant benefits for our local population, with clinicians working together to reduce unwarranted variation of clinical outcomes and share best practice.”