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Acute NHS trusts strengthen partnership working to improve patient care

The four acute NHS trusts in north west London are to come together under a single board in common from autumn 2022. The decision will build on the close partnership working that offered so many advantages to patients during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move will strengthen collaborative decision-making and help the organisations make the most effective use of their collective resources to provide better care, for more people, more fairly. This will prove particularly important as the whole NHS seeks to tackle longer waiting times for planned care, and increasing pressure on urgent and emergency services.

The four trusts will remain independent organisations, working closely with their local authorities, patient groups, and other partners. They will each create a committee of their own board directors who will come together to form the new board in common. It will meet four times a year in public, while individual trust boards will continue to meet in public at least once a year.

The Chair, trust chief executives and vice chairs will also meet as a cabinet to consider key decisions between board meetings.

Board subcommittees will continue to take place within individual trusts, and their reports will be presented at board in common meetings, along with those from the new cabinet.

The four organisations will also continue to publish trust-level data to help ensure continued local transparency and accountability.

The trusts have pledged to continue to strengthen involvement with patients, residents and stakeholders to understand and respond to their needs.

The new arrangements were formally agreed by the four trust boards and the governors of the two foundation trusts in their public meetings at the end of July and early August. NHS England is now dealing with the final administrative approvals.

The move comes as our response to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to demonstrate the powerful benefits of collaborative working. All four trusts have recently been able to eliminate waits of more than two years by sharing capacity and offering patients the chance to have surgery sooner at a neighbouring hospital.

The agreement is a milestone in the four trusts’ plans to work more closely together in a formal structure known as an acute collaborative. NHS England expects all acute trusts to be part of one or more of these kinds of collaboratives, which are expected to improve access to care, strengthen resilience and address service variation and health inequalities.

The new board in common will be led by Chair in common Matthew Swindells, who started in April this year. He said: “Our trusts worked together with extraordinary results during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. These partnerships are helping us to see our patients more swiftly and reduce waiting times.

“The new board in common will now help us make strategic decisions together, so we can share best practice, use our resources in the best way for all our patients, and develop consistently high quality services.

“Our employees, patients, communities and other local stakeholders have a vital role to play in helping to define and shape improvements. Our new governance will help us do this - both locally and across north west London.”

The four acute hospital trusts in north west London are:

  • Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust: Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, West Middlesex Hospital
  • Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust: Charing Cross Hospital, Hammersmith Hospital, Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital, Western Eye Hospital
  • London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust: Central Middlesex Hospital, Ealing Hospital, Northwick Park Hospital
  • The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: Hillingdon Hospital, Mount Vernon Hospital.

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