THE trusts running Musgrove Park and Yeovil District Hospitals could merge to form a single NHS provider in Somerset.

The boards of Somerset NHS Foundation Trust and Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust believe the move would better support the health and care needs of people in the county.

Peter Lewis, chief executive of Somerset FT, said: "Our starting point is that we want to support people in Somerset to stay healthy, to provide excellent health services to everyone when they need them wherever they live in the county, and to work with other health partners, local authorities and the third sector to provide joined up health and social care support to our patients.

"We believe, based on the work we have done so far, that we will be better able to deliver this as one organisation and our strategic case will explore this."

Mr Lewis said the two trusts have worked together during the Covid-19 crisis and with other partners to ensure they had the capacity to care for patients with the virus.

Jonathan Higman, chief executive of Yeovil Hospital FT, said: "This is an exciting opportunity to explore how the expertise and experience of our two trusts can potentially be combined to make care in Somerset better than ever before.

“By bringing together the county’s mental health and learning disability services, community services, acute hospital services, and some the county’s primary care, we believe we can significantly improve people’s experience of NHS care, making it more accessible and responsive, and enable our staff to deliver the care they aspire to."

Somerset FT was created from a merger of community, mental health, learning disability and acute hospital services.

And Yeovil Hospital FT united primary care and acute hospital services to benefit people with complex needs, and provide greater support to people to manage their own conditions.

Both trusts have also participated in a countywide programme that brings all health and social care organisations together with a focus on the needs of the whole population.

Mr Higman added: "The potential creation of one NHS provider organisation is an important step in the journey to create an integrated care provider in the county, which could oversee the planning and delivery of an even wider range of health and care services to our population in the future."

The trusts will develop the joint strategic case by the end of March for consideration by both organisations' trust boards and the regulator NHS England and Improvement.