HSJ’s round-up of the day’s must read stories and talking points

Trusts buddy up

HSJ’s analysis has identified that a third of acute and specialist trusts are involved in potential mergers/acquisitions, hospital chains, or other major collaborations.

We identified 53 acute trusts which are part of the collaborations – around a third of the total English acute and specialist trusts. Seven of the groups, involving 14 trusts, have a shared chief executive – in some cases this is an interim arrangement, in others it may precede a full merger.

Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards pointed out that it was difficult to achieve a successful merger, and while acquisitions have a better record they, too, were difficult.

The most recent coupling is Derbyshire Community Health Services and Derbyshire Healthcare, which announced their plans to become a single organisation earlier this week.

But not everyone is sticking so closely together. It was confirmed on Wednesday that Nottingham University Hospitals Trust will no longer pursue a merger with Sherwood Forest Hospitals. Peter Homa, chief executive of the Nottingham trust, stepped down from his dual role as chief at Sherwood Forest last month.

Cyber attack warning

Trusts around the country have been warned over the potential spread of a computer virus, after the most disruptive cyber attack on an NHS trust occurred this week.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Foundation Trust has been forced to cancel thousands of operations this week after a virus infected its IT systems, which it has said was a result of a “cyber attack”. It has cancelled routine operations, outpatient appointments and diagnostics except antenatal at its three hospitals for three days.

The cyber security team at NHS Digital sent a message on Tuesday to the relevant teams at all NHS providers. It warned trusts of a “potential threat to your organisation”. The message was marked “severity: high”.

“Following this infection in an NHS trust, we would like to remind all users of the need for proactive measures to reduce the likelihood of infection and minimise the impacts of any compromise,” it said.

HSJ understands that NHS Digital has not sent out full details of the virus affecting North Lincolonshire and Goole because it has not yet been on site and completely verified the causes.