Hammersmith and St Mary's NHS Trusts aim to merge by 2007, working in close partnership with Imperial to create the UK's first "Academic Health Sciences Centre". The AHSC concept, which is successful in the US and Canada, integrates the provision of clinical services with research and teaching.
A large number of hurdles remain, as the merger requires stakeholder consultations and the approval of NHS London, the Department of Health and the Secretary of State for Health. All of these parties will need to be convinced of the benefits a combined teaching trust would bring.
Trust Chief Executives Julian Nettel and Derek Smith sought to calm fears that medical provision would be cut, stating that "at this stage should the merger and AHSC concept be approved, it is our intention that patient services would be maintained across both Trusts' campuses."
This could change in the future, particularly given previous suggestions that Charing Cross could close or be rebuilt. At that time Professor Christopher Kennard, the Dean for Charing Cross hospital, indicated that hospital facilities could be relocated elsewhere, to be joined by students from the Faculty of Medicine.