Manchester single trust depends on ‘no hitches whatsoever’ from NHSI

Manchester’s plans to join together three of its hospitals in a single trust are the largest and most complex in the history of the NHS, the deputy chief executive of one of the hospitals has said.

In June, Manchester city council’s Health and Wellbeing Board approved plans to integrate University Hospital of South Manchester NHS FT, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS FT, and services provided at North Manchester General Hospital under the operation of Pennine Acute NHS Hospitals Trust.

Speaking at a subsequent Health and Wellbeing Board meeting on Friday, Silas Nicholls, deputy chief executive and chief operating officer at the South Manchester hospital, said: “This is probably the largest and most complex transaction of its nature that the NHS has gone through in its entire history.

“It will involve huge amounts of staff. It will involve vast sums of money in terms of getting it right for the public purse.”

He also introduced the new timetable for establishing the joint trust. Under the plans, ‘project 1’ of the initiative, in which South Manchester and Central Manchester hospitals are brought together in a single foundation trust, will be completed in April 2017. North Manchester will join them at some point between April and October 2018.

However, Nicholls warned that this “extremely challenging timescale” would only be possible with “no hitches whatsoever” in the examination of the process by NHS Improvement and a 24-week review by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which must now be carried out.

Nicholls said that the proposal is vital both for overcoming health shortcomings and inequalities in Manchester and reforming social care, saying it was "the main enabler" for plans to introduce a local care organisation.

Peter Blythin, formerly the nursing director at the NHS Trust Development Authority, has been appointed as programme director for the project. Blythin was director of nursing at the NHS West Midlands from 2006 to 2011, during which he was criticised at the Mid Staffordshire inquiry for having “apparently failed to inject any urgency” into investigating failings at the trust.

Nicholls also said that he wanted to undertake “detailed organisational development work” to identify the best aspects of working culture at the three trusts to incorporate them into the new trust.

He added that care would have to be taken to “sensibly and safely split the services out” as some services currently provided by the Pennine Acute trust are transferred away from Bury, Rochdale and Oldham.

The report also promised that patients, citizens and staff will be fully engaged throughout the process of creating the trust.

The full timetable for joining South Manchester and Central Manchester hospitals is:

  • July 2016: establish project team
  • July-August 2016: develop benefits case
  • September 2016-January 2017: CMA process
  • August-September 2016: develop business case
  • October 2016-January 2017: NHS Improvement provider appraisal process
  • October 2016 and January-March 2017: facilitate formal board of directors and council of governors consideration of the transaction
  • February-March 2017: undertake formal consultation with staff
  • January-March 2017: finalise legal and constitutional arrangements

Commissioning for the single hospital trust will also be introduced by March 2018.

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