Kingston primary care trust and council are consulting on plans to integrate. The PCT and local authority have appointed the first joint director of finance as part of a move to promote greater partnership working.

Kingston PCT has appointed Kingston council's director of finance Tracie Evans provisionally for six months. If the arrangement is successful, she will take on the joint role permanently.

The PCT was one of the hard core of financially struggling trusts that the Audit Commission said required "urgent action" in its review of the NHS financial year 2006-07. It had a deficit of£21.1m.

Kingston already has a joint director of public health and is consulting on whether to become a pilot for integration of the primary care trust and the council, Ms Evans said.

She also said that, as well as being financially attractive for both organisations, her role would put her in a fantastic position to sort out any tension that might arise between the PCT and the council: "It is really helpful to have somebody with a leg in each camp who can bring people together and forge those relationships," she said.

However, Ms Evans admitted there might be some areas of conflict.

"It is about me recognising when there is conflict and making sure that the right people know there is a conflict and being able to opt out and find another solution if that is the case."

HSJ's Building Effective Partnerships conference is on 15 and 16 September, www.hsj-partnerships.co.uk