BREAKING: Scrapped King’s Mill merger cost the NHS £10 million pounds

Sherwood Forest Hospitals' Peter Herring.
Sherwood Forest Hospitals' Peter Herring.
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The now-abandoned merger between King’s Mill Hospital and an Nottingham-based NHS trust cost £10m, NHS Improvement has revealed.

A breakdown of spending by Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust - which runs King’s Mill and Mansfield Community Hospital- and Nottingham University Hospitals Trust on the project shows it included £6.6m on professional advice fees alone.

It is understood that £6.1m was paid for consultancy advice with £500,000 on legal fees, according to a Freedom of Information request from medical publication BMA News.

To offset the cost to the trusts, NHS Improvement said it has allowed Sherwood Forest Hospitals to record a £10m larger deficit in 2016-17 than it would have done otherwise - passing on the cost to the NHS as a whole.

Nottingham’s share of the cost will be paid by Sherwood Forest Hospitals, BMA claims.

A spokesman for NHS Improvement said: “This work has contributed to the significant turnaround in performance achieved by Sherwood Forest Hospitals over the past year, with the trust having recently come out of special measures.

”Both trusts are committed to a working closely together, but have agreed not to pursue a merger at this time to enable Nottingham to focus on improving waiting times in its A&E department.”

Last year, the Chad revealed that King’s Mill was in a worse state than when it was first placed in special measures two years earlier.

Following a CQC inspection in 2015, it emerged Sherwood Forest Hospitals had failed to improve in all but one of the 18 targets set in 2013 - while the trust was performing significantly worse in many areas.

Nottingham University Hospitals was initially competing with Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to take over the management of King’s Mill.

But earlier this month, the merger plan was scrapped, although both trusts stated that they are committed to working in partnership.

Speaking at the time, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive Peter Herring (pictured) said: “Our Trust is in a strong position, having put in place arrangements to strengthen the organisation and its activities over the past 12 months. We have significantly improved the quality of patient care, with many areas now recognised as being best practice.”

Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero said: “This is an astonishing amount of money to be spent on a project that has essentially not gone to plan.

“It is worrying to see the NHS spending such large sums on consultants and lawyers when it is really struggling financially at the moment.

“This money would have been far better spent treating patients and or employing more doctors and nurses.

“I will be asking questions about why so much cash has been wasted and how similar situations can be avoided in the future.”