THE HEALTHCARE trust which runs Bridlington Hospital has merged with its York counterpart after the trust’s final annual general meeting last week.
The Scarborough and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust starts its new partnership with the York trust on Sunday, and will run as one organisation with the aim of shared best practice under the motto ‘Caring with Pride’.
The merger was planned 18 months ago following a decision that the Scarborough trust would not meet a government target of becoming a Foundation trust by April 2014 on its own.
Initially, patients, staff and members of the public voiced concerns about the move at a host of public meetings in Bridlington - as well as in Scarborough and across the region.
Chief executive Mike Proctor, a registered nurse who has seen healthcare from the boardroom and the “shop floor”, paid tribute to staff at the Scarborough trust’s final board meeting and annual general meeting held last Tuesday.
He said: “None of this has been easy. No one has ever merged two organisations 45 miles apart, so we’re the trailblazers in this. It is a bit scary and we’ve had no model to copy, but I believe people will come and copy us in the future.
“We couldn’t have done this without a significant amount of public support and a considerable amount of staff support.
“Situations like this will always create uncertainty, but I believe we have staff and public confidence in what we’re trying to do.”
Mr Proctor’s comments were echoed by trust board chairman, Sir Michael Carlisle, who has 43 years’ experience in the NHS, with the last five spent at Scarborough Hospital.
He said: “A great amount of energy and vigour has gone into this and I pay tribute to the way the merger has been handled by the Scarborough and York teams.
“I commend all those who have kept the hospital running under a great amount of pressure.”
Sir Michael, who retired last week, added that having a “strong team” will be the key to a successful organisation in the future.
He continued: “I leave this job with that team having a more certain future.
“However, life is not going to be easy - it isn’t for the whole of the NHS - but I believe this trust will be well equipped to deal with the future.”
Only five years ago, the trust was facing a crippling debt of £20.5 million, due to chronic underfunding for a number of years.
For the past four years, savings have had to be made in order to make annual loan repayments of £1.9 million to the Department of Health - while annual savings of 3.5% have also been made through “cost improvement programmes”.
Now, the remaining £12 million debt has been written off by the Department of Health.
Sir Michael said that knowing the trust can make a fresh start, debt-free, gives him “immense pleasure” and will allow for improvements throughout the area - with a number of improvements to the Scarborough and Bridlington sites already being completed.
Speaking at the meeting last week, Jean Turner from the East Riding Local Involvement Network said: “It’s been a pleasure to work with you over the last few years. I would like to thank you for the work you have done in Bridlington.”
Mike Proctor said: “Bridlington has got a good future. The new theatres are really starting to work.
“I heard that six gall bladder operations were done in one day the other day, which is fantastic.
“We are going to expand on the work we do in Bridlington.”