Birmingham trusts to form single organisation to solve ‘unsustainable’ arrangements

University Hospitals Birmingham and Heart of England NHS Foundation Trusts will form a single trust after finding that their current structure is not delivering the best care for patients.

If the decision is approved by both trusts’ boards, one trust will run Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, the Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull hospitals, the Chest Clinic and Solihull community services, and the trusts’ satellite services.

It has not yet been decided whether the trusts will be joined through a merger or an acquisition.

Dame Julie Moore, who has been chief executive of both trusts since November 2015, said: “We have agreed that the current arrangements are not sustainable. If we are to continue working together to maximise clinical benefits for patients, we need to implement a transformation that will deliver better access to better quality services for patients, supported by the most effective structure.

“Patients are not getting that at the moment despite the tireless work of staff across both trusts.  We need our hospitals and services focussed on doing the best for patients, not protecting their organisational boundaries.”

Moore said that the single trust would “pool the best talent and leadership from both organisations” and increase investment in clinical services by “reviewing, rationalising and sharing resource across non-frontline services”.

Recent research from campaign group 38 Degrees found that the new sustainability and transformation plans could involve merging and closing hospitals, raising concerns about the impact on care.

Monitor opened an investigation into Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust last year after its deficit reached £30m and found that the trust was in breach of its licence.

University Hospitals Birmingham is currently under scrutiny from the CQC because of concerns about a high death rate in heart operations at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Manchester city council is also planning 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.

(Image c. Ryan Phillips from EMPICS Entertainment and PA Images)

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Phil Barber   08/09/2016 at 14:34

Yes, this follows a familiar pattern, where inadequacies in healthcare delivery are to be addressed by remedial action in the form of a 'transformation', of which the first element is - wait for it - re-structuring. Expect a long and expensive round of proposals, option appraisals, management-consultant advice, and a healthy (or unhealthy) dose of medical vested interest, the outcome of which will be a new 'Board' in around two years' time, discussing how best to re-configure everything in the teeth of opposition, most of it entirely reasonable, from the de-stabilised hospitals and localities adversely affected. While this is going on there will be planning blight on all imminent developments, and a media free-for-all. No additional resource will be directed to the clinical coalface while all this is working through, probably not even then. In our own locality, North Manchester General Hospital is a good example of a casualty of this kind of process - the once-proud medical powerhouse of the north of the city, restructured in a fanfare of publicity in 2002 as part of 'Pennine Acute', the largest non-teaching Trust in the UK, and a predictable car-crash. NMGH has suffered years of deprivation and planning blight ever since (along with the other components of Pennine, which unfortunately can't be talked right), and has been recently threatened with transfer-out of its elective surgery, a death-knell indeed. There has been a recent attempt to try to pluck it from Pennine into a new Manchester conglomerate as part of the DevoManc ambitions of the City Council, for which the political climate is suddenly not quite so favourable, but the very latest move has been to re-position it yet again under the wing of Sir David Dalton in - Salford. How can effective healthcare be delivered and developed in this climate of political re-structuring chaos? NMGH is an extreme example, but we all suffer from it. I would suggest a re-think in Birmingham, a change of emphasis perhaps, with the immediate re-direction of any re-structuring budget towards direct patient care, guided by Brailsford-type principles rather than management Motherhood and Apple Pie and, of course, the Big Picture. It’s the small picture, that of everyday patient journeys, which needs focus.

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