An acute trust and a mental health and community provider have set up a joint board in a significant step towards closer working and creating an accountable care system.

Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust have established the board to “gradually unite clinical and non-clinical services”, they said in a statement.

The trusts hope the board can increase collaboration to help staff work “across organisational and system boundaries” in areas including:

  • urgent and emergency care;
  • frailty and rehabilitation services;
  • stroke services and;
  • services for children and young people.

Cornwall is one of the 14 areas in England subject to the capped expenditure process, and the trusts – which have a combined income of £520m – need to make savings of more than £24m this financial year.

The new board follows discussions between the trusts for more than a year, and comes two years after both organisations signed a memorandum of understanding to work more closely together.

The board, which has met twice since its formation in May, comprises five representatives from each trust’s own leadership team.

The chair and chief executive of both trusts sit on the new board, as does a non-executive director from each organisation.

The rest of the board is made up of Cornwall Partnership’s finance and nursing directors and Royal Cornwall’s medical and HR directors.

The two chairs agree between them who will run the board meetings.

As part of the scheme both trusts have set up their own “committees in common” that take decisions separately on behalf of their own organisation, a spokesman for Royal Cornwall said.

These committees have the same delegated powers and authority derived from the relevant trust board. The chairs and directors from the trusts who sit on the new board make up the membership of their own trust’s committee.

Thom Lafferty, Royal Cornwall’s director of corporate affairs, is secretary to both committees.

In a joint statement, Royal Cornwall chief executive Kathy Byrne and Cornwall Partnership chief Phil Confue, said: “Our focus will be on providing outstanding care for all our citizens and making sure that we establish a united approach to service improvement.”

The statement describes the move as a “stepping stone” towards the development of an ACS.

Governing body papers from Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group revealed this month that an expression of interest was submitted to NHS England over the county becoming one of the first ACS’s, but this was “not supported nationally for the next phase”.

However, the region has been accepted as a “fast follower”, the CCG’s board papers said.

The ACS is planned to be made up of an integrated strategic commissioning function for health, care, and wellbeing services, and an accountable care partnership, which would operate as a single provider but comprise several legal entities.