THE TWO largest providers of mental health treatment in our county have agreed to look at a possible merger to hopefully save money for frontline services reports the Essex Chronicle.
The North Essex Partnership Foundation Trust (NEP) operate mental health services in Mid Essex, including the Linden Centre based at Broomfield Hospital, and will look at joining forces with the South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT).
During the past year, the pair have been working closely on specific projects including their joint bid to provide a new Essex-wide substance misuse service and NHS bosses will discuss a future merger which could be in place by next summer.
But with some services, like the Chelmsford Recovery College based in Victoria Road, being axed this year as mental health services struggle to make ends meet.
A national NHS Five Year Forward View, stipulated earlier this month, requires Trusts and commissioners to collaborate to help alleviate pressures on services.
Andrew Geldard, the Chief Executive of NEP, said: "We think by putting things together, yes there will be some savings and hopefully they will go back into front-line services, but it’s around making the most of the resources, the skills and the expertise we have available to us.
"This is not just about organisational architecture and re-engineering, this has got to be a plan to give something better for patients in Essex."
SEPT is one of the largest foundation trusts in the country providing community health, mental health and learning disability services for a population of approximately 2.5 million.
In a statement they said: "Various options for closer collaboration between the two Trusts were discussed at our public Board meetings last week and both Trusts agreed to take forward the option of exploring a potential future merger.
"We will begin by assessing whether this is likely to increase the benefits for our patients, staff and the wider community.
"No final decisions will be made about the future until next year and both Trusts remain firmly committed to acting only in the best interests of our patients.
"This commitment will be the deciding factor in our discussions and in any decisions we make."