A new group for small and medium-sized hospitals has been set up by the Nuffield Trust to look at how they can adapt their business models.

The New Cavendish Group will bring together hospital chief executives to discuss the challenges facing smaller trusts. It was formed in response to a meeting called on that subject at 10 Downing Street by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens.

Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards told HSJ the group was not a small-trust equivalent of the Shelford Group, or intended to compete with the NHS Confederation or Foundation Trust Network.

The Shelford Group represents the 10 biggest teaching hospitals in England and is named after the village in Cambridgeshire where their first meeting was held.

“The primary purpose [of the New Cavendish Group] isn’t lobbying or special pleading,” Mr Edwards said. He said it would examine the kind of issues faced by trusts “that might have problems with their business model”.

The group’s discussion will inform a piece a work the Nuffield Trust is due to present to Mr Stevens at 10 Downing Street on 1 October.

Mr Edwards said he was challenged to present a list of the problems faced by smaller trusts and potential solutions by Mr Stevens, after writing a piece noting a perceived “lack of imagination about future service models”.

The group has 17 members so far and Mr Edwards said the focus was on small hospitals, so large trusts with multiple small hospital sites were welcome to join.

In a statement Yeovil District Hospital Foundation Trust chief executive Paul Mears, a founder member of the group, said: “A more joined-up and sustainable health and social care system can only be achieved if hospital leaders are prepared to innovate, taking the initiative in the development of new models of care, rather than waiting for these solutions to emerge from commissioners and policymakers in isolation.

“The New Cavendish Group will provide the chance to share and test out these ideas in a safe and stimulating environment.”