• Cumbria Partnership FT and North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust has agreed a joint executive team
  • This will be headed by joint chief executive Stephen Eames who took up his dual role in September
  • The new management team is expected to pave the way for closer integration between the two organisations and the creation of an accountable care organisation for the region

A hospital and mental health trust have confirmed their joint board and management structure, HSJ can reveal.

North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust chief executive Stephen Eames took up the role of interim chief executive of Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust in September.

The move was approved by the trusts’ boards last week and is a major step towards the further integration of the two trusts, which HSJ revealed in March.

The hospital trust and mental health and community services FT have this week agreed a joint governance and accountability structure.

Mr Eames will head both organisations and will be accountable to both North Cumbria chair Gina Tiller and CPFT chair Robin Talbot.

Cumbria Partnership’s John Howarth will be the joint deputy chief executive and executive director of integration, partnerships and population health. He will also lead on the development of the region’s accountable care system.

The joint executive has two medical directors, Andrew Brittlebank for CPFT and Rod Harpin for NCUH. The board will also have two nursing directors and two finance directors, Clare Parker and Michael Smillie for Cumbria Partnership with Maurya Cushlow and Robin Andrews at North Cumbria respectively.

However, because the two organisations are not formally merging, each of the two trusts needs to keep separate boards with their own non-executive directors. However, NHS Improvement has placed an advertisement for a joint non-executive director for the two trusts which was placed online this week.

Only certain members such as Mr Eames, Professor Howarth, joint business manager Jacky Stockdale and joint operations director Helen Ray will attend both organisation’s board meetings.

The joint management structure is expected to run until March 2019 when it is hoped the planned ACO will go live.

HSJ understands the region is hoping to select a provider for the ACO by April next year, with a view to the new care model going active the following financial year.

Mr Eames – who also leads the west, north and east Cumbria sustainability and transformation partnership – said: “We effectively signalled the integration of the leadership by my appointment.

“It’s a joint group board with delegated authority for decision making on key things, joint programmes and key programmes.”

It is the second case of an acute and mental health and community trust to introduce a joint board, with Taunton and Somerset FT and Somerset Partnership FT appointing a joint chief executive after forming an alliance to make services more integrated.

The two Cumbrian trusts agreed a memorandum of understanding in April to create a provider alliance group, which will pave the way for the ACO.

The alliance will help develop key elements of the ACO and is expected to take responsibility for:

  • “tactical commissioning functions”;
  • integrated care delivery, common operating models, pooled budgets and delegated authority;
  • shared leadership; and
  • common back office functions.