STRUCTURE: Leaders at two acute foundation trusts have unveiled plans to create a joint management structure.

The changes at South Tyneside and City Hospitals Sunderland FTs will create a single executive and management team accountable for running all hospital and community services across both trusts’ patches, serving 430,000 people.

The trusts said it will not trigger a merger, with the boards of each trust holding the joint team to account.

In the coming weeks a single team will be set up, initially generating savings of more than £500,000, the trusts said.

In a joint statement, Sunderland chair John Anderson and South Tyneside chair Neil Mundy said: “We feel it is now essential, as does our regulator NHS Improvement, that if we are to protect the future sustainability of health services for both our populations, we now move to a joint executive and management team as quickly as possible.”

Planned benefits from the arrangement will include greater flexibility in managing pressures across the system and greater service resilience from sharing clinical expertise.

Steve Williamson, chief executive at South Tyneside, said: “It is important that our collective joint management team builds on the many positive working practices which exist within both foundation trusts and shares this widely, especially for services that require improvements.”

Earlier this year, the trusts formed an alliance to set up the South Tyneside and Sunderland Healthcare Group to look at jointly providing some clinical services as it was “no longer safe or sustainable” to duplicate provision in each location.

The trusts have already announced a series of reviews of all services beginning with stroke, trauma, emergency surgery and obstetrics and gynaecology. Two reviews of diagnostics including radiology will also take place.

New models of care will be prioritised in specialties where there have been problems in recruitment, achieving patient safety standards, access to diagnostics or overall patient experience leading to difficulties providing 24/7 services and seven day working.

The changes are intended to lead to a focus on emergency surgery and complex care at Sunderland Royal Hospital, with South Tyneside concentrating on out of hospital rehabilitation and diagnostic and screening services, as well as taking the lead on community services.