Service Reconfiguration


Services with ‘pressing case for action’ outlined in potential merger for University Hospitals Birmingham FT

Board papers from a Midlands trust which controls 2,700 beds have outlined a potential merger of some services “where there is a most pressing case for action” in the area.

University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust’s Strategic Operations Steering Group (SOSG), which aims to “realise the benefits” of a new merger between Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) and the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) in April, highlighted 16 services including diabetes, radiology, and plastic surgery as areas under clinical review by the SOSG.

UH Birmingham FT operates Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and following the merger in April, will now manage Heartlands, Good Hope, and Solihull (HGS) hospitals.

Board documents noted the need to “consolidate the most specialised care to concentrate rare professional expertise and expensive equipment, improving quality and sustainability for the longer term,” adding that the SOSG are reviewing the clinical services with joint leadership from divisional triumvirates at HGS and QEHB to deliver “benefits of working at a greater scale across the new trust.”

The SOSG highlighted potential opportunities of the merger to be able to “deliver lower complexity care close to where people live, tailored to different communities’ needs” and “realise economies of scale, for instance in purchasing power and recruitment potential.”

In some cases, the board papers note, in services such as obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, or orthopaedics, “opportunities will be pursued” by working with other providers within the Birmingham and Solihull STP such as the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital Birmingham NHS FT and the Heart of England NHS FT.

The initial focus on reviewing specialities has been identified as ‘Phase 1’: interventional radiology, plastic surgery, neurology, nephrology and renal medicine, cardiology, vascular surgery, diabetes, and gastroenterology/liver medicine.

As part of ‘Phase 2,’ upper GI, pharmacy, clinical oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, urology, pathology, and trauma and orthopaedics will be assessed under the review.

No emergency departments will be closed, nor will any of the four hospital sites under UH Birmingham FT’s control.

“At this stage,” the board papers said in its conclusion, “there are no firm proposals to bring to the board of directors. As part of the process of developing the new trust strategy, we have initiated a comprehensive set of discussions between specialities to explore the opportunities for working across sites. As proposals emerge, SOSG will produce a prioritised list. Work will start with those services where there is the most pressing case for action.”

NHE has contacted UH Birmingham FT for comment.

Top image: Ryan Phillips via EMPICS Entertainment


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