STRUCTURE: Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust has put forward an acute care vanguard bid in partnership with Dartford and Gravesham Trust. It would see the London teaching hospital become a ‘system leader’.

The bid was submitted this week and if successful, the highly regarded FT will share its clinical and management expertise with Dartford and Gravesham. It would also seek to create a “strategic clinical network”.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ has already been working with Dartford over the last year on a number of areas including in individual clinical services, procurement and in reducing clinical variation.

Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT has already been working with Dartford over the last year

The trust was buddied with neighbouring Medway Foundation Trust in March to strengthen the Kent trust’s clinical leadership and help improve care standards. Medway has struggled with a poor accident and emergency performance and has seen a high turnover in senior management over the past few years.

Susan Acott, chief executive of Dartford and Gravesham, told HSJ it was looking for a “third way” to move forward because it is not an FT and is saddled with a large private finance initiative debt, but also has a good reputation and is performing well.

She added: “When the vanguard opportunity came along, we decided to bid for it as we are looking for a solution and need some help thinking that through. We discounted merger and acquisition as the strong local relationships we have with patients groups, [clinical commissioning groups], local authorities, MPs etcetera are really important, so it’s about a partnership, not a takeover. We see ourselves as part of a system of care… our hospital can be used as a resource for specialist providers as well and our secondary services reaching out into the community.

“There needs to be a system leader of course and [Guy’s and St Thomas’] has the capability to be that system leader… It’s also about using [Guy’s and St Thomas’] positive influence and excellent reputation for the benefit of a wider population,” she added.

A Guy’s and St Thomas’ spokesman said: “We have been working collaboratively with colleagues from Dartford and Gravesham Trust in a variety of areas over the last 12 months. We have been exploring how we can work together more closely for the benefit of patients and staff and so as a consequence we took the opportunity to submit a vanguard bid.

“If the bid is successful, this will enable us to develop further our potential as a system leader by sharing the clinical and management expertise of our staff with colleagues at Dartford and Gravesham, and by creating a strategic clinical network.

“We look forward to hearing the outcome of the interview process.”

HSJ understands that if the vanguard bid is approved, the partnership may not be exclusive between the two trusts and other trusts could sign up to it.

The trusts plan to continue working together even if they are unsuccessful in their bid.