HUNDREDS of people have had their say on the proposed merger of two Cumbrian health trusts.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation (CPFT) have been working closer together for some time and plan to formally join to become one organisation on October 1.

A six-week engagement period has just finished, in which staff, stakeholders and the public had their say on the merger as well as on the potential new name.

More than 1,300 people shared their views through an online survey and hundreds more did so through social media and face-to-face events.

The feedback will now be used to address concerns, with the trusts pledging to ensure that priorities and opportunities identified are at the forefront of plans to merge.

Of four possible names, the North Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust was the most popular option overall, although in west and south of the county, Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust was the favourite.

Name options including 'Lake District' were most popular among potential nursing recruits and many suggested their own alternatives. The name will be agreed by the board later in the summer.

Daniel Scheffer, company secretary, said: “This was a really rich piece of engagement and we gathered a broad range of views from our staff, the organisations we work with and the people who use our services.

"I’d like to thank everyone who took part, we will be using what we learnt to ensure implementation of the merger goes smoothly.

“It’s clear there is still some confusion about what the merger means and the benefits it will bring so we will continue to share examples of how our closer working is already showing positive results.

"For example our Integrated Care Communities (ICCs) continue to support more people out of hospital, ensuring beds are available for those who really need them.

“People were very clear that throughout any changes our patients should be at the centre. Delivering safe, high quality care will always be our top priority and we will do everything we can to ensure patient care is not disrupted by the merger.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank staff for their continued hard work during what for some has been an uncertain time. While we know change can be unsettling, I am confident this is absolutely the right thing to do and will help us provide more seamless patient care.

"We have some excellent practice across both trusts and we will be taking the best of both as we come together.”