HSJ’s roundup of the day’s must know stories

Julie Moore is undisputed queen of Birmingham

Dame Julie Moore, the widely respected chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust, is to be appointed chief executive of Heart of England FT.

Along with UHB chair and former home secretary Jacqui Smith, Dame Julie will run both trusts on what Monitor describes as an “interim” basis.

No timescale for the arrangement have been set, but Monitor emphasises the unacceptability of HEFT’s surprise £29.5m year to date deficit, and the importance of turning this around.

UHB is also in deficit, but is closely tracking its forecast and is widely acknowledged as being extremely well run. Dame Julie will spend the “vast majority” of her time at HEFT, says Monitor.

Whether or not this is a temporary arrangement or something with a longer term future, it means Dame Julie will be in charge of five hospitals with a combined turnover of £1.39bn.

Don’t call it a merger, though – the trusts will remain distinct entities with separate boards, and our understanding is that this, along with the vague “interim” nature of the arrangement, is intended to keep the competition authorities at bay.

The solution is not without precedent in Birmingham: earlier this year Birmingham Children’s Hospital FT chief Sarah-Jane Marsh took over at Birmingham Women’s FT, without merging the organisations.

It means that much of Birmingham’s acute provision is now controlled by just two chief execs, and opens up the possibility of a serious reconfiguration of hospital services in the city.

It also means that the high profile, outspoken Dame Julie is now a more powerful and influential figure in the health service than she already was. But turning around HEFT – which has deep seated governance and performance problems quite apart from its recent financial collapse – is a huge task, whoever is asked to do it.

Sherwood Forest FT ‘needs long term partner’

Not all troubled providers are lucky to have Dame Julie as a neighbour, however, and the regulators have rubbed salt in the wounds for singleton Sherwood Forest Hospitals FT. A joint Monitor and Care Quality Commission statement said the “inadequate” East Midlands FT needed to establish a “close tie-up with a long term partner”.

They wouldn’t give us a clue what they meant by this, stating that all options - including merger - remained on the table.

Perhaps Executive Summary can act as a lonely hearts column in this instance. If you’d like to meet a district general hospital, more than two years in special measures, deficit exceeding £10m, in the Mansfield area - and has an appetite for complex governance arrangements - please do get in touch.