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

There can hardly be two trusts less well matched. Western Sussex Hospitals Foundation Trust has twice been rated “outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission, is financially stable and well regarded. Brighton and Sussex Hospitals Trust endured a long time in special measures for both quality and finance, and still has many problems despite coming out of both.

But these two are planning on tying the knot after three years of moving closer together. First, Western Sussex took over the management of BSUH, with a shared chief executive and eventually chair; then they proposed forming a group, again with many shared roles; and now they are formalising the relationship with a planned merger.

It will create a south coast colossus, with a turnover of more than £1bn, reaching from the Hampshire border into parts of East Sussex. It’s unclear why the plans have changed and what benefits a union brings now which were not apparent earlier. But, with BSUH still a poor performer on many measures, chief executive Dame Marianne Griffiths must be hoping that love really does conquer all.

Performance management: it’s back…

The NHS is facing a sizeable challenge in addressing the backlog of elective demand, with mounting referrals into secondary care.

It is bringing back elements of the performance management system to help address this.

It has asked providers to start reporting their patient tracking lists to the centre again, to enable “oversight of waiting lists and waiting times, particularly for the longest waiting patients,” Ms Pritchard wrote.

There are also questions over which patients should be at the front of the queue for treatment and the NHS is pushing for more joint working of local systems to ensure the public get equitable access.

Trusts will continue to provide the data but NHS England expects “complementary work” at a system level “to allow greater sharing of demand and capacity across system footprints”.