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The three acute trusts in Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System have admitted drawing up plans in private to merge their leadership, although the proposals are now on hold, as HSJ revealed this week.

The plans were prepared by leaders of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals and James Paget University Hospitals and Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn foundation trusts, as part of the Norfolk and Waveney Hospitals Group project.

The confirmation that such a plan exists appears to contradict the official position of all three trusts. They have all, publicly at least, said they want to retain independent executive boards.

The fact the plans were drawn up behind closed doors meetings of a “committee in common” comprising the leaders from all three trusts is also not a great look.

There is no suggestion that any of the hospitals would be closed because of a leadership merger. Such a move, to consolidate leadership and create a genuine group model, would only mirror what is happening all over the NHS. 

But patients, residents and local politicians are all “stakeholders” and such meetings should be held in public, just as the trust board meetings are.

‘Get your act together’

Trusts which are falling behind on key asks in tackling health inequalities have been told to do better.

An HSJ investigation has found that the vast majority of trusts with the largest waiting lists have not compared differences in waiting times between different ethnic groups or deprivation levels – and some that have done so have not reported it publicly.

The findings come amid revelations at some trusts that people of different groups wait significantly longer for elective care.

Roger Kline, former director of NHS England’s workforce race equality standard, has told HSJ this data should have been revealed before even the covid pandemic in line with providers’ legal duties.

He said the trusts that have not pushed forward with this analysis “need to get their act together.”

Also on today

Catch up with our weekly digest of health coverage, The Primer, and also our tech expert briefing The Download, in which Nicholas Carding looks at the launch of (another) NHS data project.