The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

Consolidation continues

A mental health trust is preparing to seek a merger or acquisition by another provider in a bid to address its financial challenges, HSJ reported on Thursday morning.

In a message to staff this afternoon, North West Boroughs Healthcare Foundation Trust said growing financial pressures were “likely to put the quality and safety of patients at risk”.

It said various options were discussed by governors and the trust board at a meeting yesterday, and it was agreed to pursue a “merger or acquisition of the whole organisation with one or more provider trusts”.

Elsewhere the preferred approach is to move to joint leadership instead of – or at least as a precursor – to merger.

In London, there’s been a veritable wave of trusts holding hands: it was announced on Thursday that the new chair of Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust will be Gillian Norton, who will continue to chair St George’s University Hospitals FT.

The move marks the second largest pair of organisations to have a single chair, after the announcement earlier this year that the chair of Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT would also run the board of neighbouring King’s College Hospital FT.

It will see “closer working” between Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals Trust, which sits on the London-Surrey border and has a turnover of £434m and St George’s, which has a turnover of £844m and is home to London’s smallest medical school, according to the announcement.

Publish or be…

The government belatedly published its “Yellowhammer” no-deal Brexit preparation summary on Wednesday night. Yet NHS chiefs point out that even this is now more than a month old, and they really should have up-to-date predictions and plans to work with.

In Yellowhammer as elsewhere, the impact of no-deal Brexit on social care services – with its reliance on a low wage, mobile and often European workforce – is increasingly a major concern for the health service.

It was mentioned by the NHS’s Brexit lead as one of his two top concerns earlier this month; and Yellowhammer outlines how wage (and other) inflation could send care providers under. Our workforce briefing – by correspondent Annabelle Collins – this week also explores regulatory barriers to overseas nurses.