How would merger of Essex trusts affect staff and patients?
Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust, Southend University Hospital FT and Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust have approved plans to merge to form one of the largest trusts in the NHS.
The hospitals, which are all in financial deficit, have worked together since 2016 under a joint leadership team. But the merger is facing opposition from some patients and some senior clinicians.
Senior executives on the leadership team said they hoped the new organisation would come into being by April 2019. The trust would serve more than 1.1m people with 14,000 staff.
Chief executive of the three trusts Clare Panniker said several options had been looked at and the recommended option was to work as one organisation.
However, secretary of Save Southend NHS Mike Fieldhouse said the merger would lead to a reduction in the number of services available locally to patients. He said the group wanted a fully operational hospital on each site and not one hospital with three sites, which would mean more travelling for patients.
Chairman of Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust Nick Alston said the merger would make staff more motivated and more enthusiastic and there would be more training opportunities.
BBC: Basildon, Southend and Broomfield hospitals discuss merger plans
Health Service Journal: Senior leaders of three trusts to recommend merger