NHS Improvement has announced its intention to provide four particularly high performing trusts with the power to lead groups and / or chains of other NHS hospitals.
Bosses at the foundation groups in question will have the permission to oversee current partnerships and federations of hospitals, as well as being instantly involved with the process of merger and acquisition.
This new accreditation from NHS Improvement is intended to ensure that the outstanding trusts have the authority to execute the acute care collaboration vanguard projects.
The four trusts given “foundation group leader” status are Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust, Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust, Royal Free London Foundation Trust, Salford Royal Foundation Trust.
All four of these organisations have been rated that least good by the Care Quality Commission, with Northumbria and Salford Royal considered outstanding.
NHS Improvement chief executive Jim Mackey believes that the announcement can be considered a big step forward for the health system, enabling patients and providers to benefit from superior leadership within the health service.
Mackey himself worked as chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust until last year, and commented that the accreditation process will offer both quality and financial performance advantages.
“Being in a group isn’t right for everyone. The accreditation process considered not only the quality of services on offer and the management trusts have, but also the benefits that trusts will get from being part of a group and the potential risks they face.”
Northumbria management commented that thee new accreditation will make it easier to share best practice, knowledge and expertise with other trusts.
Chief executive David Evans indicated that the trust as already built up a significant reputation within the NHS as an innovator.
“For many years we have been at the forefront of innovation in the NHS, pushing the boundaries of excellence, pioneering new models of care and always thinking one step ahead about the challenges of delivering modern healthcare. The NHS is constantly changing, the needs of our patients are constantly changing and as medicine and technology advances, we must keep pace and create a healthcare system which switches our focus on prevention and keeping people well.”
Salford Royal has already begun working with local trusts in the area with the intention of establishing the first chain under the vanguard program.
Chief executive Sir David Dalton commented that the digital revolution that has been essential to the successes of the Salford will be central in the process, enabling a similar quality of care to be established across the NHS as a whole.
“The key aim of leading a Group of NHS providers is to deliver high quality care that is standardised and replicated across all organisations to improve patient outcomes and deliver better value for money. Assuring the reliable delivery of high standards, at scale to a greater population, allows quicker decision making and ensures that those decisions are taken in the interest of the population. This contrasts with delays in decision making which often occur when multiple organisations are assessing the impact of changes on themselves rather than the wider interests of the population they should be serving.”
Dalton also outlined details of the work that Salford Royal is already conducting with the Pennine Acute Trust.
“Salford Royal, which is one of only five Trusts in the country to be rated ‘outstanding’ by the CQC, has started this improvement journey with Pennine Acute Trust and I am optimistic that this is the beginning of an arrangement which can provide positive changes which will be appreciated by staff, patients and the communities we serve.”