STRUCTURE: The chief executive of a hospital chain has become the accountable officer for a struggling neighbouring trust.

David Sloman, who leads the Royal Free London Foundation Trust, was today announced as “interim accountable officer” for North Middlesex University Hospital Trust.

The news comes at the same time as the Care Quality Commission announced that the latter’s accident and emergency performance – while still the worst in England – had “turned a corner”. However, it still rated the trust’s emergency department “inadequate”.

A spokesman for North Middlesex said the trust’s chief executive Julie Lowe was on “emergency leave”.

Although Mr Sloman will be interim accountable officer, Libby McManus, who is currently at the Royal Free, will take over as interim chief executive.

Another former Royal Free employee Turan Huseyin, who ran Barnet Hospital’s A&E department, will take over the same role at North Middlesex.

Royal Free is a vanguard hospital chain and the new governance arrangements for North Middlesex are still unclear. North Middlesex still has its own chair, John Carrier.

The two trusts had announced they were exploring joint working in March, as part of the Royal Free’s hospital chain project.

One senior figure told HSJ that although the original proposal had been collaborative, the move now looked more like an acquisition by the Royal Free.

Before Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals Trust was formally acquired by the Royal Free in July 2014, a senior director from the Hampstead trust was introduced as interim chief executive. Tim Peachey was appointed following an A&E waiting times scandal at Barnet and Chase Farm.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust, which was exploring “buddying” arrangements with the Royal Free, last month appointed a director from the Royal Free as its new chief executive.

Part of the consultant body at West Hertfordshire were unhappy at what they perceived to be a takeover of their organisation by the Royal Free.

The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital also considered drawing up a memorandum of understanding with the Hampstead trust on closer working last year.

Royal Free chief appointed accountable officer at neighbouring trust