The Trusts running Hinchingbrooke Hospital and Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals have today (Thursday) published a full business case that sets out in detail the case for merging in order to sustain acute services for patients in Huntingdonshire, Greater Peterborough and South Lincolnshire.

The full business case (FBC), which has been published on both Trusts' websites, will be discussed by both boards of directors in separate meetings to be held in public next week.

In a joint statement, the two chief executives of the hospital Trusts, Lance McCarthy of Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust, and Stephen Graves of Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The full business case addresses the issues raised by members of the public who have been attending our engagement sessions between July and mid-September. One of their main concerns was about patients having to travel further to access care.

"We can assure patients that the full business case focuses upon our jointly delivering care that's better, safer and local. There are no plans to change the location of any service, including A&E and maternity, which has been a concern of patients in Huntingdonshire in particular.

"We are also hoping that residents in Huntingdonshire will take advantage of the fact they can become members of the merged Foundation Trust and, as a result, play a greater part in the running of their local hospital. This can include standing for election to the Council of Governors, which will ensure local voices will be heard."

The FBC contains the latest information about the clinical and financial benefits of merging, compiled following extensive engagement between the clinical and administration teams in both organisations.

It examines what this means for patients and staff. It does not recommend changing services at any of the three hospital sites, but it does highlight the risks of the organisations remaining independent - which could have a negative impact upon some services for patients, particularly in Huntingdon.

If the boards agree the resolution to merge on 1 April 2017, the case will be submitted to the regulator, NHS Improvement.

Next steps include seeking feedback on the integration of clinical services from the local independent Clinical Senate, as well as obtaining further views from staff and members of the public at additional engagement sessions to be held throughout October and November.

Both boards are due to review this feedback in their board meetings in November, when they are expected to ratify the decision to merge.

The FBC will be discussed by the boards of both Trusts at two meetings in public:

- Tuesday 27 September 2016 - Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust board will meet at 1.30pm in the Board Room at Peterborough City Hospital, Level 4 Core A

- Thursday 29 September 2016 - Hinchingbrooke Health Care NHS Trust board will meet at 9am, with the FBC discussion starting at 11am in the Partnership Suite at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.