Closer collaboration between BHRUT and the Barts Health group

The pandemic brought NHS organisations and partners across north east London more closely together than ever before in responding to Covid, for the benefit of our patients and residents. In particular, BHRUT worked closely with the Barts Health group to co-ordinate care for critically-ill Covid patients and those with urgent and emergency needs, including transfers between hospitals.

Building on the strong foundation of co-operation between our clinicians, and working closely with our partners at borough level, we are now keen to step up the pace of collaboration to deliver further improvements for our patients, staff and communities. These include the experience of urgent and emergency care, reducing backlogs for planned operations, and tackling the inequalities widened by Covid.

Under the umbrella of our integrated care system (ICS), we are developing a joint view on enabling greater cohesion between the two trusts, and talking to as wide a range of staff and stakeholders as possible to inform our discussions. We aim to come to a broad agreement on a model that maximises the strengths of all our hospitals while delivering added benefits for our local communities.

Our closer working relationships are endorsed by national policy, as set out in the recent White Paper proposals for provider collaboratives working in partnership with local government and others within each local ICS.

In the light of this, the Boards of the two trusts will in future be led by the same chair, who will be responsible for taking forward the deeper collaboration and determining the next steps. NHS England is now advertising for a “chair in common” through the normal open public appointments process, which is expected to conclude by August. The two trusts will remain separate statutory bodies.

Meanwhile BHRUT will take the opportunity to recruit a substantive Chief Executive, a role that has been filled on an interim basis for some years.

Ian Peters, the chair of Barts Health, has already announced his intention to stand down to focus on chairing the new Health Security Agency. BHRUT is chaired by Mike Bell, who is also chair of Croydon Health Services NHS Trust.