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Academic merger vastness will be good for research – King's College and pals

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Three NHS foundation trusts have published proposals (PDF) to merge into a single organisation, with intentions including making better use of IT and creating shared platforms, such as a shared electronic patient record.

In their strategic outline case, the three trusts - Guy's and St Thomas', King's College hospital, and South London and Maudsley - say that introducing shared platforms across a single merged organisation offers a range of benefits. According to the trusts, they include lowering the risk of medical error, reducing outpatient appointment times, and improving patient experience by avoiding asking people to repeat basic information.

But a spokeswoman for the trusts said that no firm decision had been taken about how the management of ICT would be structured in the proposed single organisation.

The merged organisation would be closely integrated with King's College London, with the intention of bringing together "academic and clinical services in specialties".

"Leveraging our scale, we will seek to establish a larger number of patient trials addressing the health issues that matter to our local population," the document says.

"We will do this in partnership with others through the Academic Health Science Network we hope to develop across south London."

The document says the integrated organisation could "improve access to, and data about, the vast patient population served by the three healthcare providers, by developing a shared electronic record that is accessible to research". It would build on existing models like the Clinical Record Interactive Search.

ICT facilities boost

In addition, the intention is that the single trust would be able to offer better ICT facilities to make it easy for staff to work across locations.

If NHS regulators approve the strategic outline case, a full business case for the proposal could be published in the autumn, with the merger taking place in 2014.

The new organisation would have a turnover of some £2.6bn and employ 29,000 staff.

Professor Sir Robert Lechler, executive director of academic health sciences centre King's Health Partners said: "The new organisation would mean better care for our patients, a faster translation of research into treatments and an integration of mental and physical health rarely seen elsewhere.

"It would give us the opportunity to create a world leading institution, capable of attracting the best clinicians, that our patients, communities and staff can be proud of."

This article was originally published at Government Computing.

Government Computing covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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