Health trust merger sparks fears for jobs and the future of Central Middlesex Hospital

North West London Hospitals Trust will join forces with Ealing NHS Trust

The trust in charge of Brent’s cash-strapped hospitals has given the go-ahead to merge with another trust, sparking fears for jobs and the future of Central Middlesex Hospital.

North West London Hospitals Trust (NWLH), which manages Central Middlesex, Northwick Park and St Mark’s hospitals, agreed on Tuesday to join forces with Ealing NHS Trust to create one organisation in an attempt to make �140million in cuts by 2015/2016.

The new organisation, called London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, will serve the boroughs of Brent, Harrow and Ealing. But most of the savings over the next three years will be made by axing staff.

A spokesman for NWLH Trust said: “Given that a large part of the trusts costs are pay, some of the savings will come from making changes in the workforce.

“However, we do not have at this stage a figure for number of potential redundancies. We will be working hard to ensure these are kept to a minimum.”

The merger, which is costing about �30million, is being signed off just before a new consultation begins by NHS North West London. Called Shaping a Healthier Future, it is trying to plug a funding gap of �1billion, leading to increased concerns that Central Middlesex Hospital could close.

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The hospital has already lost its overnight accident and emergency department to a shortage of doctors.

Campaigner Pete Firmin, of Brent Trades Union Council, said: “The merger is likely to lead to the loss of the A&E at Central Middlesex Hospital and its gradual running down.

“The area needs a readily accessible accident and emergency department.

“Northwick Park is too far and public transport links are too poor to be a viable alternative.”

But David Cheeseman, director of strategy at NWLH, said: “The business case for the merger is for organisational change. The Shaping a Healthier Future Programme will be subject to a separate formal public consultation. The merger proposals are entirely different.”

NWLH Trust, which is no-longer financially viable, has a historic debt of about �25 million but this will be wiped clean when it merges with Ealing.

The new trust would employ about 6,000 staff and have an income of about �600 million. It would care for a population of about 850,000 people. By merging, the new trust hopes it will be closer to achieving self-governing foundation status.

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