• Dame Julie dismisses UHB takeover of Royal Orthopaedic Hospital FT
  • Comes after senior sources had previously suggested an acquisition was likely
  • “Blurring boundaries” between acute hospitals in the region

Dame Julie Moore has dismissed suggestions of another takeover of a neighbouring trust but says the boundaries between acute providers are “blurring” across Birmingham and Solihull.

Dame Julie became chief executive of one of the biggest trusts in the country on Sunday, following University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust’s acquisition of Heart of England FT.

She is also lead for the Birmingham and Solihull sustainability and transformation partnership.

In the past six months, several senior NHS sources have told HSJ that a further takeover of Royal Orthopaedic Hospital FT in Birmingham was likely, amid growing regulatory intervention in the specialist trust.

However, speaking to HSJ last week, Dame Julie said there was now no intention for her trust to take over its smaller neighbour, citing the “bureaucracy” involved in acquiring Heart of England.

”I don’t see the need to change how we are working together because we are working in partnership. It is going very well.”

Both providers and commissioners in Birmingham and Solihull have gone through a substantial consolidation in the past two years.

As well as the UHB’s takeover of Heart of England, three of the region’s clinical commissioning groups merged on Sunday. In February last year, Birmingham’s women’s and children’s trusts merged as well.

Dame Julie said there were increasingly “blurring boundaries” between acute providers across Birmingham and Solihull, with Royal Orthopaedic Hospital taking the lead on orthopaedics.

UHB and the Royal Orthopaedic were already sharing staff and facilities across sites, with the latter also deploying some of UHB’s IT systems, she said.

“We will look at what can we share to save time and money. As we get going on procurement we will see whether the ROH wants to join us on that as well.”

Orthopaedic services across the STP are the subject of a clinical review, which is ongoing but will likely result in more joint working across providers.

In June last year, a UHB and STP senior executive was seconded to Royal Orthopaedic Hospital to help turn around its deteriorating referral to treatment performance.

A month later, the trust surrendered its paediatric surgery service amid sustainability concerns. The service is currently in the process of moving to Birmingham Women’s and Children’s FT.

In a statement provided to HSJ, a Royal Orthopaedic Hospital spokesman said the trust was “well placed as a standalone specialist elective hospital to support the health system”.

The trust was working in closer partnership with both UHB and the women’s and children’s hospitals “than ever before” but there were no plans for the trust to drop any other services. 

Instead, the spokesman said it was looking at new ways to use the capacity freed up by dropping paediatric surgery and increasingly deploying trust clinicians outside the hospital.

“Our ambition is to expand our current service provision for adult patients with a particular focus on our rapid recovery programme… and our musculoskeletal services. We are currently working with GP and commissioning partners in Birmingham to expand services such as functional restoration into more settings in the local community and to move away from a single centre approach.”