HEALTH bosses have moved to reassure patients in the county after significant plans to merge two NHS Trusts were approved.

Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) will merge to become one – named the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust - from the start of next month.

The CPFT currently delivers community services in north Cumbria, as well as countywide children’s, specialist and mental health services.

While the NCUH runs acute services at both the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital.

At the same time as the trusts plan to merge, mental health and learning disability services will be transferred to other providers as part of plans to strengthen these services.

In north Cumbria they will be delivered by Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust and in south Cumbria they will transfer to Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Despite the changes - which have caused concern, particularly in the south of the county - patients are being promised a more ‘seamless’ care service.

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Last week, national regulator NHS Improvement approved the merger following extensive scrutiny of work by the trusts.

That decision was rubber-stamped by the trusts’ board and governors who gave the final go-ahead yesterday at a meeting in Penrith.

While talks of a merger were previously discussed seven years ago, Professor Stephen Eames, chief executive, highlighted that this one will bring benefits.

He told The Cumberland News: “I’m delighted our plans to merge have been given the green light and we can now take the final steps to officially join together.

“Last time round, it was a case of the NHS trust in Northumbria wishing to merge with us and run the trust here.

“But now, this is a locally arranged change that has been built over time with a lot more support from local government.

“A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes to ensure we are ready for October 1 so I would like to thank all staff who have been involved.

“The official approval signals we are doing the right thing for people in Cumbria.”

Prof Eames also hailed the move has a ‘big step’ for health and care for people right across the county.

He added: “There is currently a lot of change happening within the NHS in Cumbria.

“We continue to face a lot of challenges, such as securing a workforce for the future and retaining that staff, and recognise there is still plenty of work to be done to get us where we need to be.

“We’re dealing with the challenge pretty well, and are looking at new ways of working, plus a range of support and training to keep staff with us.

“It is an exciting time for the future of our services and we have already been recognised nationally as a leading example for our work across the health and care system.”