Today, on Wednesday 1 April, Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust have completed their merger to create Somerset NHS Foundation Trust (Somerset FT).
Somerset FT provides community services, including services in people’s own homes, community sites and from community hospitals in the county, mental health and learning disability services, and services at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton – and is the first trust on the English mainland to provide combined community, mental health and acute hospital services.
Peter Lewis, chief executive of Somerset FT said, “Today’s creation of our new trust is the culmination of nearly three years’ work by colleagues within mental health, community and hospital services who have worked hard to join up services and care for patients in our county. The impetus for our merger came from our colleagues across both our legacy trusts who saw the improvements that we can make for our patients if we join up services. I thank them for this and pay tribute to them as they pull out all the stops, working collaboratively, to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The two legacy trusts formed an alliance in May 2017 and have worked closely together since then. In late 2017, the two trusts established a joint executive team, with Peter Lewis as joint chief executive, which oversaw all aspects of both trusts’ operations and worked to a single set of strategic objectives covering hospital, community and mental health services.
“Working together more closely than ever before, we made improvements to the care our patients receive but it became clear that we needed to merge in order to remove the barriers that add unnecessary delay and cost to the care we provide for our patients, and to truly integrate community, mental health and hospital services for the benefit of our patients, their carers and the population of Somerset,” said Peter.
The way in which the combined trust aims to deliver care is central to the creation of Somerset FT. Colleagues from across both legacy trusts came together to plan how will work together.
Dr Lucy Knight, medical director for mental health, said, “We heard from colleagues working in a wide range of services across Somerset about the opportunities that exist to improve care for patients if our services work together differently. Together we identified what we want to achieve and now we will work together to make this a reality.”
James Rimmer, Chief Executive, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “All health and care services in Somerset are committed to working better together for our patients and the people we serve. We welcome today’s merger and thank everyone at the new Somerset FT for their hard work and commitment in achieving this milestone. We will continue to work collaboratively in partnership with all our providers as we strive to keep the people of Somerset, and our health and care staff, as safe as possible.”