The board of directors of Hinchingbrooke Hospital and Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are set to discuss their next steps as the proposed merger plan moves ahead.

The two boards are to hold separate public meetings to be held in May, where they will each discuss their response to an outline business case which has been in development since January to explore the possibility of working more closely together.

The board of directors at Hinchingbrooke will meet on May 23.

The following day, the board of directors at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals will meet at Peterborough City Hospital to consider the same business case.

Members of the public and trust staff are able to attend both meetings.

In a joint statement, the two chief executives of the hospital trusts, Lance McCarthy of Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust, and Stephen Graves, of Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "In our original timetable for this work, our respective boards planned to discuss the outline business case document in private meetings to be held at the end of April.

"However, it is clear that both trust boards are committed to making their decisions publicly on how we progress the outline business case, which is why we have rearranged the meetings for a few weeks later to ensure they can be held outside of the constraints of the pre-election period.

"If the boards of each trust agree that they want to pursue options 2, 3 or 4, the next steps will be to produce a full business case to set out how the chosen option will be put into operation. Should this be the case, both trusts are committed to engaging with members of the public to help inform the full business case."

If a full business case is required, this will be completed over the summer months.