SOUTHPORT and Ormskirk hospitals will enter a partnership with a neighbouring NHS trust so it can continue to provide clinical services for patients.
The Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust will partner St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in a decision backed by NHS England.
Bosses at the Trust say that while “significant progress” has been made to improve the quality of services, it still faced challenges with some ‘fragile’ clinical services and could only continue to provide them with the support of other Trusts.
St Helens and Knowsley is a high-performing trust, rated ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.
The two Trusts also have a record of working together – most notably, Southport and Ormskirk’s pathology service has been provided with the support of Whiston hospital since 2014.
Neil Masom, the chair of Southport and Ormskirk board, said: “The Trust has made significant progress over the past 18 months to stabilise and improve service quality for patients. This year, the CQC reported improvements in all areas inspected.
“However, we still face significant challenges, especially around a dozen or so ‘fragile’ clinical services which we are unlikely to be able to continue providing alone. We can only do this with the support of the wider NHS.”
Despite recent improvements, he added, underlying weaknesses in the Trust’s finances also persisted as did attracting and retaining colleagues in a highly competitive labour market.
He said: “Put simply, we have the skill and the will but not the resources or the scale to be the outstanding hospitals our community deserve. So, it is important that we don’t slip back on the hard-won progress made over the past few years.”
The partnership agreement for a long-term collaboration aims to sustain the delivery of improved outcomes for patients and ensure high quality and sustainable hospital services.
It will also give staff greater flexibility to develop their professional skills and make best use of available resources.
The Southport and Ormskirk board has agreed changes to its structure when current chief executive Trish Armstrong-Child takes up her new role leading Blackpool hospitals.
The board has appointed Ann Marr , chief executive of St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, to be the Trust’s new chief executive while Anne-Marie Stretch, who is currently, deputy chief executive and director of human resources at STHK, has also been appointed to the new post of managing director. She will have day-to-day management responsibility for the Trust and lead the executive team which is otherwise unchanged.
Both will become members of the Southport and Ormskirk board.