Chair outlines plan for Barts and BHRUT trusts collaboration

12:00 PM December 19, 2021

The chair of two east London NHS trusts has denied suggestions a “mega-merger” is taking place. 

Jacqui Smith started her role as the first chair-in-common of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) and Barts Health NHS Trust in October. 

On Tuesday, December 14, Right Honourable Ms Smith, a former Labour MP and the first female home secretary, outlined her plans for the collaboration at her first joint health overview and scrutiny committee. 

Ms Smith stressed to the committee that the chair-in-common role means while she is chair of both trusts, she will “have a responsibility to BHRUT as a separate trust”. 

She claimed the partnership was “already seeing positive benefit” and BHRUT had helped clear a backlog of “people from Barts who have had to wait too long for some diagnostic treatment and some planned operations”. 

In the other direction, she noted senior consultants from Barts had been seconded into BHRUT in an effort to improve urgent and emergency care at Queen’s and King George hospitals. 

She said one benefit of the collaboration for staff is the “opportunity it will offer across both trusts”, and noted all senior vacancies were being advertised across both trusts. 

Redbridge councillor Beverley Brewer asked for assurance that separate executive functions would be maintained and they weren’t “heading for a mega-merger”. 

Ms Smith said: “There are no plans to do a mega-merger”. 

Cllr Nisha Patel of Havering Council said BHRUT junior doctors she had spoken to expressed concerns Barts would “cherry pick the excellent services that we have”. 

“Some of them are not happy with the collaboration so I was just wondering how the staff have been advised about all this,” she added. 

Matthew Trainer, chief executive at BHRUT, responded by saying doctors had been reassured by a focus on clinical outcomes rather than structure and governance. 

He said: “We’ve always worked with Barts and what the collaboration is doing is allowing us to look at areas where we have struggled for a long time.” 

He said some services may need to move to where it is most needed, but this is likely to happen in both directions. 

“That clinical spirit is offering the staff a lot of assurance that we are pushing this for the right reasons and in the right way,” he added.

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