• King’s and Guy’s to share a chair
  • Major south London FTs to become ‘two organisations with one voice’
  • Appointment comes days after new chief exec takes over at King’s

Two of England’s largest foundation trusts are to share a chair, it has been revealed.

In an unprecedented move for trusts of their size and importance, King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust’s new interim chair will be Sir Hugh Taylor, who also leads the board at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust.

Sir Hugh will take over from King’s current interim chair Ian Smith, who has been in the role since December 2017 after the trust was put in special measures for finance.

This announcement comes four days after King’s appointed Clive Kay to take over as chief executive – a move first reported by HSJ in early January.

King’s has a turnover of over £1bn but its financial position remains a challenge; it is predicting a year-end deficit of more than £140m. It also faces some performance issues.

NHS Improvement said in a statement that having Sir Hugh chair both trusts “will enable closer working and a deeper and long-term relationship between two of the largest acute healthcare providers in the capital”.

The regulator “will continue to work closely with both trusts to ensure the arrangement is working well”.

The appointment marks the first serious move towards integrating the two providers since 2012.

A strategic outline case for a merger of the two trusts was prepared after approval of their boards, plus the board of South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust.

The move would have created an organisation with a turnover of £1.9bn and the only combined acute and mental health organisation outside the Isle of Wight.

Sir Hugh said he is “very much looking forward to working with the board and colleagues” at King’s and would be concentrating on helping it “through its current difficulties to that new future – one where it stands on its own feet as an organisation”.

He will work with Dr Kay and the board “to stabilise and improve our financial and operational performance with the support of Guy’s and St Thomas’ and other partners”.

He will promote “collaborative working and decision making between [the] trusts”, though he added: “We do not need a merger to do this. We will continue to operate as two organisations – but, increasingly, two organisations with one voice”.

Baroness Dido Harding, chair of NHS Improvement, said “Sir Hugh’s appointment will enable closer working and a deeper and long-term strategic relationship between both organisations as we take forward the long-term plan.

“Greater collaboration, including support from and close working with Guy’s and St Thomas’, is a good thing for both patients and providers across south east London.”

Sir Hugh is expected to remain in both chairs until 31 January 2021.