An acute hospital trust could merge with a social enterprise company that provides community, mental health and social care services, HSJ has learned.

University Hospitals Plymouth Trust and Livewell Southwest have set up a joint board and hired an integration director. The organisations have an “ambitious” target to integrate by April 2019, according to trust board papers.

A trust spokeswoman told HSJ the work is about “integrating services, not organisations”.

However, the board papers refer to plans to create a new NHS organisation and state that commissioners want a “fully integrated health and care organisation” in Plymouth.

Discussions have also been held with NHS Improvement’s merger and acquisitions team.

Livewell Southwest was set up as a community interest company in 2011 after community services were transferred from primary care trusts to other providers.

It provides care to a catchment population of around 270,000, mainly in Plymouth and surrounding areas, and has a turnover of £110m.

In 2015 the company, which has no shareholders, began providing social care in Plymouth under a £71m contract, making it one of the largest organisations of its kind in England.

Later that year its finance director, Dan O’Toole, told the Guardian that Livewell “wouldn’t go back into the NHS as an organisation”.

Its chief executive, Steve Waite, retired in March this year.

In one of its reports into local health systems, the Care Quality Commission said there was “compelling vision for integration” within Plymouth, but there remained some “cultural and organisational barriers”.

The new joint board between the trust and Livewell comprises both organisations’ chief executives, deputy chief executives, chairs, one non-executive director each, and two directors of integrated care – one of whom, Ben Rom, is programme director for integration between the two organisations.

The board meets monthly.

Both organisations are selecting employees to make up a transformation team. In addition, the parties are “streamlining processes” for staff moving between the organisations.

This is to help develop “partnership arrangements” ahead of commissioning intentions which are expected to be published by Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group in July.

The news comes one week after Lord Carter said integrated acute and community trusts are more efficient than two separate organisations running each acute and community services.

This week two acute and community trusts in north and east Devon announced they would share a chief executive and chair.

The county’s two CCGs have also set up committees in common as part of a drive to work closer together to solve Devon’s long standing financial problems.

Livewell South West referred HSJ to the trust’s response to HSJ when asked for a comment.