LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and St. Vincent Health System have concluded several months of talks about a possible merger without coming to an agreement, the hospitals announced Friday.

"UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., and other UAMS leaders are recommending to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees that UAMS end negotiations on a strategic alliance with St. Vincent Health System," the hospitals said in a joint news release.

Neither hospital was able to "define a pathway that meets the goals of both institutions," according to the release.

"While we are ending these discussions, we will keep the door open for other ways in which we might work together in the future," the hospitals said.

Officials of the two hospitals announced in April 2012 they had entered into a nonbinding letter of intent to explore opportunities for an affiliation to address a number of challenges, including an aging population, shortage of physicians, nurses and other professionals, inaccessibility to health care in rural areas and the unknown ramifications of health care reform.

Some state legislators said they had received phone calls from people concerned about how a partnership between state-run UAMS and the Catholic hospital would handle women’s issues, including reproductive health.

UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn told lawmakers any relationship between the two hospitals would not affect UAMS’ mission as a public hospital.