Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, today revealed a study showing that hospital mergers have a negative impact on health services. Mr. Lilley has consistently urged Health Ministers to block further hospital mergers unless and until they have carried out research into previous mergers which shows that more centralised units result in better health care. Now a Health Minister has revealed that the only study so far concludes that hospital mergers have a ?negative effect on delivery of services?.
Peter Lilley said:
“I have repeatedly urged ministers to commission research on whether or not previous hospital mergers have improved health outcomes before allowing any more mergers. Following months of persistent questioning in Parliament I have forced John Hutton, the Health Minister, to reveal the only study on this subject which examines the effect of London hospital mergers on clinical performance.
“The study, published in the British Medical Journal last year, concluded that ?mergers had a negative effect on delivery of services because of a loss of managerial focus on services.? It also reported that mergers created delays in the development of services and, most importantly for Hertfordshire, that health authorities and trusts should take its findings into account before undergoing significant restructuring. It is worrying that we are going ahead with greater centralisation in Hertfordshire without evidence showing that mergers actually work ? and in the face of these findings which suggest that they do not.
“I am relieved that the Herts and Beds Strategic Health Authority?s latest proposals involve less centralisation than originally suggested. Nonetheless, it is moving in the direction of more centralisation of A&E units, maternity services, and children?s services across Hertfordshire.
“I shall discuss these issues when I meet Steve Knighton, Chief Executive of St Albans and Harpenden Primary Care Trust, on Thursday 20th March.?