Consultation with hospital staff and health watchdogs has begun around the potential merger of North West London Hospitals NHS Trust and Ealing Hospital NHS Trust.

The boards of the two NHS trusts approved the outline business case for merging the two organisations at board meetings held last week, the Harrow Times reported.

North West London Hospitals NHS Trust includes Central Middlesex Hospital, Northwick Park Hospital and St Mark’s Hospital. The trusts cover the areas Harrow, Brent and Ealing.

Consultation has now started with health watchdogs Harrow, Ealing and Brent Local Involvement Networks (LINks) and the staff that work at hospitals as part of the trust.

In a joint statement, chief executive at Ealing Hospital NHS Trust, Julie Lowe, and interim chief executive at The North West London Hospitals NHS Trust, Peter Coles, said: “As a combined organisation we will be able to offer 24-hour a day access to large and highly specialised clinical teams.

“We would also be able to provide integrated care from hospital bed to home across Brent, Ealing and Harrow.”

A final decision has not been reached yet but the outline business case will now be considered by NHS London’s Capital Investment Committee. If approved, the next stage is the development of a full business case, which will also need approval from the Department of Health before any merger is agreed.

If the trusts receive approval throughout the process they could merge by July next year.

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Roy Rowlands writes for National Health Executive an essential guide to health service managers offering a wide view of healthcare news, views and opinions