Your must read round-up of the day’s biggest stories

Happy marriage?

The future of Bedford Hospital Trust has long been in question after the hospital said in 2012 that it wasn’t sustainable as a standalone organisation.

But it was widely believed that whatever the future of Bedford would be, it would involve Milton Keynes University Hospital Foundation Trust.

However, HSJ exclusively revealed on Tuesday that, contrary to expectations, the hospital is instead “exploring” a merger with Luton and Dunstable University Hospital FT.

The chief executive of Bedford, Stephen Conroy, described the plan as a “joyful union” that is a “very good thing”. He said the intention is to “retain all core services on both sites”.

What this all means for the fledging accountable care system in the region is still unknown.

A takeover was not mentioned in NHS England’s announcements about ACS regions in March or June.

Mr Conroy said the merger proposal is “not replacing” the ACS but it is hard to see how far and fast these plans can progress now that two out of the three acute trusts in the area will be occupied with merging in the immediate future.

HSJ had previously revealed that the first wave of ACSs was meant to be working in shadow form this year, ready for “full ACS status” from April.

It is also interesting to note that since the March ACS announcement, Luton’s chief executive, Pauline Philip, has stood down to concentrate on her national accident and emergency role. How far the change in leadership at Luton has contributed to a switch in focus in the area is unclear.

Southern Health’s new boss

Southern Health FT has named Nick Broughton as its new chief executive. The current chief executive of Somerset Partnership FT will start his new job in November.

The announcement comes shortly after HSJ revealed Southern Health is considering divesting itself of its community services provision, which accounts for a third of its £321m income.

Dr Broughton said he was joining at “an extremely important time in its history”.