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It is probably no surprise to anyone that two North West trusts are to share a chief executive and have a partnership agreement. But it could provide a lifeline for “fragile” services at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust – an organisation which many people feel has looked unsustainable as an independent entity for years.

Ann Marr, the chief executive of “outstanding” St Helen’s and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust, will head the “requires improvement” Southport and Ormskirk from 20 September. The partnership agreement – which is meant to be a long-term collaboration – will address issues such as the sustainability of services and the use of resources.

The chair of Southport and Ormskirk, Neil Masom, argues the trust has made significant progress recently with services stabilised. But he adds that challenges remain – especially with a dozen fragile services which the trust is unlikely to be able to continue providing alone.

The agreement with St Helen’s may offer some solutions – shared teams operating across both hospitals is one adopted elsewhere for struggling services – but will this be enough in all cases or do the people of Southport and Ormskirk need to brace themselves for some to be centralised?

The not so long goodbye

His exit was, he said, for personal reasons but it came following serious concerns from regulators. Whatever his motivation, Steve Warburton has resigned suddenly as chief executive from Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust and will be replaced on an interim basis by former Northern Care Alliance chief Sir David Dalton for six months.

Mr Warburton left the trust yesterday and will take up an interim “strategic leadership role” in the Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care System.

He has been chief of the FT since it was formed in October 2019. He was previously chief at one of its predecessor trusts, Aintree University Hospital FT, since 2015, and has worked in the NHS in the region for around 30 years.

The trust will start the recruitment process for a permanent CEO “in the coming weeks”.