• Three hospital trusts will form an alliance
  • Will focus on developing options for ”challenged specialities”
  • No plans for a merger or major reconfiguration, trust says

Three acute trusts in the South West have agreed to form a hospital alliance focusing on identifying gaps in workforce and capital across the region.

According to a recent paper to the board of Royal United Hospitals Bath Foundation Trust, the trust will form an alliance with neighbours Great Western Hospitals FT and Salisbury FT.

Together, the three trusts provide the bulk of acute services in the Bath, North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire sustainability and transformation partnership.

The central purpose of the alliance will be to “lead discussions between organisations focused on improving clinical services and closing health, care and financial gaps for the benefit of the population of the STP”, the paper said.

Under the new arrangement four senior executives from each organisation will sit on an alliance board, which will have delegated authority from the trusts to make decisions within this remit.

Initially the alliance will be chaired by Royal United Hospitals Bath’s chief executive James Scott, but will switch between the organisations every two years.

Other specific responsibilities under the partnership include sharing best practice, creating “clinical communities” across the three trusts and to “lead in determining options and ways forward for challenged specialities within the partner organisations”.

Clinical areas that would be examined first would include urology, orthopaedics, obstetrics and gynaecology, and stroke.

A Royal United Hospitals Bath spokesman confirmed that all three trusts had agreed to the new arrangement.

He said the alliance would not lead to any major service reconfiguration or a further consolidation of the three organisations, such as a merger.

The region’s STP, published in December 2016, stated there were no plans to merge the trusts but there was an “agreement to collaborate to ensure ‘at risk’ services remain sustainable – particularly from a workforce perspective”.

Combined, the three organisations have an income of £888m and about 2,000 beds. All three organisations are rated by the Care Quality Commission as “requires imporovement”.