THE CHIEF executive of one of Liverpool’s two biggest hospitals has called for merger talks.
Catherine Beardshaw, chief executive of Aintree hospital, said it was vital to the future of the NHS in Liverpool that the idea of a merger with Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen was not “kicked into the long grass”.
Mrs Beardshaw and critical care consultant Dr Tristan Cope sat down with The Post to outline the merits of merging after the possibility was revealed on the newspaper’s website earlier this week.
The pair said that merging the two hospitals was needed to deliver sustainable and high quality patient care in the face of an ageing population, dwindling finances, and the need to improve services.
Mrs Beardshaw also suggested other mergers were likely to be needed in the coming decade.
She warned the city’s fragmented services which sees children, women’s, and heart specialisms being delivered by separate hospital trusts would also need to change.
“Because of the fragmentation we can’t compete on a national or international stage.”
Dr Cope said Liverpool risked losing specialist services to Manchester which is already ahead of the game in joining up services.
“We need to centralise services, but here in Liverpool. The city has a big enough population to support it.”
The merger idea has received a lukewarm reception at the Royal, which said it is focused on delivering a new £451m hospital and gaining foundation status, which Aintree already has and brings financial freedoms.
Mrs Beardshaw said: “The question for us is how do we maintain our focus on high quality care that can only be done in hospital, when there is less money in the system.
“The principle should be to centralise complex hi-tech services that require critical mass, and not move too many patients around.”
When asked if A&E could or should close at either hospital, Mrs Beardshaw said: “I don’t know the answer to that at the moment.”
She said a merger would inevitably mean a reduction in the joint workforce of 10,000, but that the frontline would be mainly protected.
“If you think about duplication that happens in back office and there are also a lot of managers.
“There are two chief executives, you would only need one, and you would only need one board.
“There would be some changes to the frontline, but not major changes.”