Plans to merge Bedford and Luton hospitals are likely to be delayed until April 2019 at the earliest.
A joint statement from the two organisations said they do not expect to receive the necessary government cash to allow the merger to go ahead this autumn.
The change had originally been planned to take effect this month.
The statement said: “Both trust boards have committed to reviewing progress in June this year and agreeing the most likely date for the merger to proceed.
“It looks like the earliest possible date would be in the autumn but that would be dependent upon us receiving confirmation in early July from NHS Improvement that the capital is available to support our plans. The more likely scenario is that the national funding allocation is not announced until later in the summer and in this case, we would merge at the start of the next financial year.
“This is because we are aware of the impact of undertaking major organisational change during the busy winter period. In both cases integration work will continue and we will use this additional time to further develop our plans and progress key activity.”
Bedford Hospital boss Stephen Conroy, pictured, had been expected to leave the trust this month but will now stay on until the merger is completed. His counterpart David Carter has been made chief executive of Luton & Dunstable Hospital on a permanent basis.