STRUCTURE: Work has started to create a ‘foundation chain’ between two leading hospital trusts in the North West, HSJ has been told.

Salford Royal Foundation Trust, and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh FT are in talks about forging an “acute care collaboration”. They submitted a bid to NHS England’s national vanguard scheme to kickstart the project earlier this week.

Last month, HSJ revealed how Salford Royal was one of three trusts seeking to build a foundation group, or chain, in which members could share a “standard operating model”.

Salford Royal Foundation Trust

Salford Royal hopes the arrangement will benefit patients and service users of both trusts

Trusts joining the group would have to adopt the operating model, in a bid to spread success across wider geographies.

In a joint statement, Salford Royal and Wrightington FTs said: “The board of directors at both organisations have agreed to establish a closer working relationship with a view to this creating a group which both trusts believe will significantly benefit patients and service users, the communities we serve, and staff.

“Our trusts have a long and successful track record of collaboration and we wish to explore how we can deliver operational excellence by working even closer together.

“Our discussions are still at a very early stage and we look forward to developing these plans further with our staff and our partner organisations for the good of the patients we serve.”

The FTs are already in the process of creating a “single service” for emergency care as part of the Greater Manchester Healthier Together project.

Bolton FT, the third partner in the single service, is not involved in the foundation group.

The joint statement added: “Our ambitions are consistent with [the] NHS Five Year Forward View and both organisations remain committed to the objectives of Healthier Together and to the goals of devolution in Greater Manchester.”

Umesh Prabhu, medical director for Wrightington, said the trusts are both “very high performers” and would be “equal partners” in the deal.

He added: “A key part of the arrangement would be ensuring the trusts use the same electronic patient records system, which could eventually also link in with GP and social care records.

“And as more emergency care is set to move to Salford, the trusts will consider whether more patients needing elective orthopaedic surgery can be treated at Wrightington.”

A spokeswoman for Bolton said: “We know Salford and Wigan have been working on this and although we have not been involved, we believe it will complement the exciting proposals we are developing with them for single services.”