PATIENTS are set to benefit from the merger of two NHS Trusts.

The Government announced today that Wigan and Leigh Health Services and Wrightington Hospital will merge from April 1.

Both trusts, which will serve people in Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley, claim the move will provide the best opportunity to expand the orthopaedic departments and reduce waiting times for surgery.

They also said the merger will help possible development of the Wrightington site, bring cuts of £500,000 in management and administration costs and improve recruitment and training of specialist staff.

The two trusts claim there are no plans to reduce patient services.

Andrew Foster, chairman of Wigan and Leigh Health Services NHS Trust, said he was extremely pleased to have been given the approval to link the two organisations.

He added: "The merger will enable the development of trauma and orthopaedic services for the people of Wigan and Leigh, while ensuring that the expertise within Wrightington is both preserved and built upon."

Health Minister Lord Philip Hunt, who announced the move today, said he was confident the merger would provide patients with better services.