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.”
Two major NHS trusts in the north-east of England have announced that they are to integrate their clinical services.
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust asserts that it is no longer safe for them to continue duplicating such services.
Instead, the two trusts have collaborated in forming a health alliance, with the intention of reconfiguring operations that the two organisations.
By collaborating more closely, it is hoped that the patients of the two trusts will receive improved health services.
And considering the number of patients that the two trusts currently serve, it is critical for the situation to be addressed as quickly as possible.
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust Cover a large area of 430,000 patients.
Yet observers of the decision have certainly not been unanimous in support.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has described the decision “quite shocking” in voicing her opposition to the decision.
Lewell-Buck was particularly critical of the fact that there had been limited dialogue with political representatives.
“There’s been no discussion with myself as a local member of parliament, but I think worse, it’s absolutely disgusting that there’s been no consultation carried out with the people of South Tyneside who use this hospital and use these services.”
The decision is indicative of the financial problems that are rife across the NHS, with many trusts facing financial deficits.
It could also be argued that this is merely an extension of existing collaboration.
The two trusts currently work together on clinical services such as paediatrics, and both believe that it is necessary for “more significant transformation” of services in order to protect the future of healthcare across both communities.
And the hierarchy of the two NHS organisations have defended the decision and suggested that it will simply enable patients to receive an improve quality of service.
“What we’ve chosen to do is to come together in an alliance to make the most effective use of the resources we’ve got – that’s I think, one of the key ways that we’ll be able to make sure that we deliver sustainable, high quality health services in Sunderland and South Tyneside,” Steve Williamson, chief executive of South Tyneside’s NHS Hospital Trust, commented.
The Royal College of Nursing also backed the move.
Peta Clark, from the Royal College, asserted that “it’s important to remember that both trusts have already been working in partnership for a number of years. The NHS is facing huge financial pressures. So, by working together like this, both trusts can become more efficient. Hopefully this should free up more resources to allow the trusts to spend on frontline care.”
The South of Tyne Healthcare Group will see Sunderland focus on providing emergency surgical and planned services, with South Tyneside focusing on leading hospital rehabilitation and screening services.
Both trusts will continue to function as statutory NHS Foundation Trusts.
Funding for mental health services provided by NHS trusts has fallen by more than 8 percent in real terms over the last five years according to new research.
Figures from 43 mental health trusts obtained by the online journal Community Care and the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act show that total funding for the trusts’ mental health services dropped in real terms by 8.25 per cent, or almost £600m (inflation adjusted).
“These figures reveal the true extent of cuts to mental health services over recent years”, said Mind’s Chief Executive Paul Farmer. “This week, the government announced extra funding for children and young people’s mental health services, a reflection of the scale of under resourcing. The figures clearly show that the rest of mental health services are suffering just as much and need significant investment.
“The impact of these cuts falls squarely on patient care. Bed shortages, cuts to frontline nursing posts and long waiting times for therapy have been well-documented in the last couple of years and, at the same time, demand has been increasing as more and more people come forward and seek help. The treatment gap for mental health is huge – 75 percent of people with mental health problems get no help at all. Meanwhile, many more are being turned away from services when they need them the most, left to cope alone with self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
“The next government will need to hit the ground running on mental health. Those in power can no longer ignore the fundamental truth that services only work when they are properly resourced. We need to see a permanent increase in the NHS mental health budget of at least £1bn if we are to reverse the damage caused by years of neglect and recent cuts.”
More than half of NHS organisations have declared a surplus of land according to data collected by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
The land is currently owned by NHS organisations and deemed no longer required or considered unlikely to be needed for health service purposes in the future.
The release of the data by HSCIC will assist in quantifying the NHS contribution to the on-going government initiative of accelerating the release of public sector land for development.
Earlier this year, the National Housing Federation said that “public land belonging to the NHS could help deliver as many as two million new homes” and that “given the increasing financial pressures on the NHS, selling land is appealing and actively encouraged by the Treasury, Monitor and the Trust Development Authority.”
The main findings of the data collection from NHS organisations are as follows: (i) a total of 398 separate parcels of land were identified by the 125 NHS trusts who declared surplus or potentially surplus land; (ii) 125 (52%) of NHS trusts declared at least one parcel of surplus or potentially surplus land; and (iii) 117 (48%) of NHS trusts gave a negative response to the possession of surplus land.
The data was collected from 242 NHS trusts in England (a 100 percent return rate) through a central data collection system between December 2014 and February 2015.
The HSCIC data does not 47 sites identified by the NHS as sensitive.