The must read stories and talking points from Wednesday

Three is the magic number

Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust chief executive Clare Panniker is poised to take over an unprecedented third hospital trust (with combined revenues of £850m) following the departure of neighbouring Southend University Hospital FT’s CEO.

System leaders already paved the way for the move by putting Ms Panniker in charge of a leadership team overseeing the two trusts and Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust, of which she was made chief executive last year.

And now Southend chief Sue Hardy has said she is “stepping aside as chief executive… in recognition that a single executive team will enable the three trusts to better deliver… the best possible services” across the mid and south Essex success regime.

Ms Panniker has a huge challenge, with the three trusts needing to make eye-watering savings to help close the health economy’s projected £216m deficit by 2018-19 – a nigh-on impossible task.

Could we see more chief executives taking on the leadership of multiple trusts in 2017? Trusts in Birmingham and Greater Manchester already share a boss, while fresh from his knighthood in the New Year’s honours list, could Royal Free London’s chief executive Sir David Sloman soon find himself in charge of the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital or North Middlesex, for example?

The other hospital doctors’ union

A second trade union for hospital doctors has been granted national recognition by NHS Employers, meaning there are two national bodies representing doctors for the first time since 1948.

The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association was formally granted national collective bargaining rights just before Christmas.

The union, which has more than 3,5000 members, will now play a full role in negotiations on pay, terms and conditions with NHS Employers, alongside the British Medical Association, for all hospital based doctors including trainees.

The decision to recognise the union follows years of talks and a campaign for recognition by the HCSA, which formed in 1948.