latest health care news

05.06.15

First NHS hospital chains to be announced in September

The first four hospital chains in the NHS are to be chosen by September, the health secretary has announced.

Jeremy Hunt said that Monitor and NHS England will make a decision on which trusts will form the first NHS foundation trust chains and encouraged hospitals to start putting their proposals together to be considered.

Organisations have until the end of July to apply.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation’s annual conference in Liverpool yesterday, Jeremy Hunt said that purpose of these chains would be to help spread good practice around the system.

“There is fantastic practice, world-beating practice, in the NHS, we’re just not very good at sharing it around the system,” Hunt said. “And one of the things that happens in nearly every other country in the world, that helps diffuse best practice, which we don’t have in the NHS is hospital chains.”

The new hospital chains build on the work done by Salford Royal chief executive Sir David Dalton last year.

These new chains may include greater use of clinical networks across nearby sites, joint ventures between NHS organisations, or the delivery of specialist single services across a number of different providers.

The aim is to enhance the viability of local hospitals through new formal shared working arrangements between clinical specialists at different hospitals, and to improve efficiency by sharing back office administration and management between different sites.

In a speech at the King’s Fund last month NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens indicated that he is more interested in developing new care models for struggling hospitals than pursuing wholesale takeovers.

He cited existing arrangements by specialist hospitals such as Moorfields Eye hospital running a clinic at Dartford and Gravesham trust and the Royal Marsden hospital providing cancer services at Kingston hospital and Queen Mary’s hospital in Roehampton as examples that could be imitated.

Stevens said: “Rather than automatically assuming that centralised, ‘bigger is better’ we want to test new ways of sustaining local NHS hospital services, with more sharing of medical expertise across sites, and more efficiency from shared back office administration.”

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