The chief executive of University Hospital Birmingham Foundation Trust has admitted its first attempt to “test the concept of the chains model” with a trust from a distance has not worked.

The trust was recently asked to work with troubled Medway Foundation Trust in Kent to help improve its performance.

Dame Julie Moore said the 12 week project had allowed her to “test the concept” of running a hospital chain, one of the options currently being explored by the Dalton Review of hospital structures.

“It was testing the concept of whether you can operate at distance and I think over time that it will be possible but not as a first go,” she said.

“Over time it would be eminently possible for somebody to operate a chain once you have got your working mechanisms in place.

“But it’s a heck of a journey to Medway. It’s not possible to do that under the current way people operate.”

The trust currently has “buddying” arrangements with George Eliot Hospital Trust and Wye Valley Trust, which was recently placed in special measures.

Dame Julie said she would consider buddying other trusts, a form of support she believes can be more useful than drafting in management consultants.

“Whatever trust we have been into, no matter how bad it’s portrayed in the media, we’ve always learned something as well,” she said.

“It’s a two way process.

“If we don’t help the NHS from within the NHS, I don’t think there’s anybody that can do it better,” Dame Julie added.

“We all believe in the NHS and I still think it is the best health system in the world in places.

“The fact we’ve got some places not performing well does not reflect well on all of us. We’ve got the expertise to do it and we’ve got a vested interest in the outcome. You have credibility with clinicians and that goes a long way. That credibility is hard to achieve if you are outside the system.”