Hospital bosses from Burton and Derby have stressed that no jobs will be on the line if the proposed merger of Queen’s Hospital and the Royal Derby does go ahead.
Helen Scott-South, chief executive of Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which operates Queen's, and her counterpart Gavin Boyle, from Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust which runs the Royal Derby, have moved to ease any worries among staff that some jobs may be under threat particularly in Burton.
The pair had confirmed that Derby would "acquire" Burton at a public meeting to discuss the proposals on held last month, where it was also confirmed final planning for the merger would be submitted and reviewed in December or January.
Affected hospitals include the Royal Derby Hospital and Queen’s Hospital, in Burton, along with a number of community hospitals under the respective trusts umbrellas, including Sir Robert Peel Community Hospital in Tamworth and Samuel Johnson Community Hospital, in Lichfield which belongs to the Burton trust.
This week Mr Boyle has sought to ease any concerns about staff roles in Burton hospitals trust.
Mr Boyle said: "When we come together as two organisations we treat all staff equally, so I don’t think there will be a differential impact on Burton and actually people are protected by law.
"There is a piece of legislation that means that if you bring two organisations together you have to treat everybody fairly, so that’s absolutely our intention.
"In terms of people being anxious about redundancies, I’ve been perfectly happy to stand up in front of staff and be reassuring. This isn’t about centralising services in Derby, so I think the vast majority of staff will continue doing as they are.
"Some additional opportunities will come up, with services being transferred back to the area from the West Midlands hospitals, back into hospitals in Lichfield, Tamworth, Burton and Derby.
Nigel Sturrock is the medical director at Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and has reinforced Mr Boyle’s view, saying: "When looking at our clinical staff, nursing and doctors, there are some specialties on each of our hospitals and trust where we are struggling to recruit.
"What we hear from our clinical teams is that if we come together as a single, prestigious unit with super outcomes for patients and a really good place to work in, we will attract in a really good calibre of staff, so we’re hoping this will help us with the vacancies.
"We are always worried when we have vacancies, we always want to fill them and we see this as a solution to that."
Questions have been raised regarding why the merger would see Burton becoming part of Derby,with executives saying that due to economic reasons, it will be far easier and cheaper to merge Burton into Derby.
Similarly the newly formed trust would be able to keep the 'teaching' title from Derby which is vital when it comes the hospitals continuing to attract high calibre nursing professionals.
Mr Boyle said both hospitals would be in a good position should the merger go ahead as planned.
He said: "I think it’s now a fact that the combined orthopaedic department between Derby and Burton will be around the fourth biggest in England, so being able to attract really high calibre surgeons who know they’ll be able to develop their specialist interest in the large department is appealing."
Almost all services currently on offer at Queen’s Hospital will remain in Burton under the changes, other than stroke services which will go to Derby. Derby already has an admired department dealing with stroke patients.
But not everyone is happy with the merger...
Campaigners will be holding a protest over the potential merger between the two hospitals on Saturday, August 5.
Members of East Staffordshire Trade Union Council, Unite Community and Burton’s keep our NHS Public branch make up those protesting and they have explained that they want to fight the move.
The group will hold the rally at the Washlands, in Burton following a ‘bed push’ from Belvoir Road, next to Queen’s Hospital.
Protesters will be gathering on Belvoir Road at 11am near to Queen’s Hospital and will follow a hospital bed which will be pushed from the hospital to Meadowside drive, in the town centre.
The route for the march will go along Belvedere Road onto Dallow Street, then to Waterloo Street, Barkley Street, Derby Street and along Station Street.
A rally will then be held on the Washlands between Burton Library and Meadowside Leisure Centre, where a series of speakers have been confirmed. They include Steve Thompson, from Unite the union’s national executive committee, Chris Williamson MP for Derby North who was elected in the 2017 General Election, and Staffordshire health campaigner Gail Gregory.
Gracie Petrie, a Leicester-based folk-singer and activist who performed at Glastonbury and events to support Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will be performing to close the rally.
Other speakers will include Sarah Carpenter, the national health officer for Unite, Lee Baron, the regional secretary of the Midlands TUC and others from East Staffordshire Trade Union Council and Unison.
Chairman of East Staffordshire Trade Union Council, Paul Walker is one of the organisers of the rally and has said the people he has spoken to in Burton are "horrified" by the plans.
He said: People are shocked at this takeover move and were supportive of our planned action. From the people that I spoke to last Saturday, there was a relief that people are willing to stand up and fight this.”
Helen Scott-South, the chief executive at Queen’s Hospital, in Burton said services would not be lost in Burton, other than the moving of the stroke department t Derby.
Mrs Scott-South said: “When we look at what we’re told is going to be said at the rally, it’s all about that we are not going to have services provided here in Burton, which is the total opposite to what we’re doing.
“I think the important message is that people are concerned in Burton about A&E and we’ll be keeping that and working with Derby we’ll be keeping services and will in fact be able to offer more services here.”
The rally will begin on Belvoir Road near to Queen’s Hospital at 11am on Saturday, August 5.