Kettering General Hospital and Northampton General Hospital are moving towards a group management model to strengthen health services in Northamptonshire. This will include the appointment of a group Chief Executive Officer.

The move signals a firm commitment to greater collaboration, at pace, between the two hospitals and a commitment of the senior management teams to work much more closely together. This does not mean there are plans to merge the two organisations.

Alan Burns

Kettering and Northampton General Hospitals already have a Joint Chairman, Alan Burns (pictured right), who has been in post for a year.

He said: “Over the last year our two Trust Boards have met to discuss how we can better work together for the benefit of our patients and staff.

“Northamptonshire’s health and social care services face some very significant challenges and so do both acute hospitals.

“We need to ensure that both Kettering and Northampton General Hospitals are clinically and financially sustainable and are able to meet the rising demands created by population growth. Working together as acute Trusts, and with our other partners, is the way to do this.

“Both Trusts have been working together over the past few years and both Trust Boards now feel it is time to signal our firm intention to collaborate by moving to a group management model covering both organisations.”

Simon Weldon

Kettering General Hospital’s Chief Executive, Simon Weldon (pictured left), said: “We are committed to having two hospitals with key facilities such as A&E, paediatrics and maternity services in both Northampton and Kettering.

“The rising demand for care means we definitely need to have two acute hospitals serving the north and south of the county. But to serve our local populations well in the future we have to rise to the very real challenges we face – and we believe that the best way to do that is to work together.”

Dr Sonia Swart

Northampton General Hospital’s Chief Executive, Dr Sonia Swart (pictured right), said: “We have been speaking to clinicians at both sites for some time to look at how services could be better provided together and they agree there are ways we could do this.

“For example, if we were, in some way, to consolidate our cardiac services we would potentially be as large as some regional centres. This work was discussed recently at a clinical conference held with colleagues, whereby it was recognised an increased level of service could be offered to patients in the county by collaborating. In addition it was clear that collaboration would make Northamptonshire a very attractive place to work, ensuring good career progression opportunities, and a chance for the two Trusts to invest in the very best facilities to serve local people’s needs.

“We have had shared services across the two hospitals for some years and been successful in consolidating an developing some of these services in a way that benefits patients who have had a stroke or a vascular emergency or who need specialist cancer care. We know, however, that we could and should develop more county wide services if we are to rise to the challenge of providing the best that modern healthcare can offer.”

The Group Model could also lead to opportunities to share expertise and develop new approaches to team working in support services such as IT, informatics, estates, corporate governance, and human resources. A common approach and emphasis on transformation and quality improvement will be an early priority.

Interim Chief People Officer for KGH and NGH, Mark Smith, said: “We have some fantastic, enthusiastic and innovative teams providing care and supporting the care provision within both Trusts. But the two hospitals have different IT systems, different policies and processes, identity badges, car parking arrangements and different ways of working which can cause frustration and delays for patients and colleagues.

“We want to work with those teams to look at how we can work together, pool resources, simplify systems, avoid costly duplication and make the best of our teams.

“It is about investing in strengthening and reorganising the way we manage our resources for our mutual benefit. For example between us we also have large estates with a mixture of great facilities and ones that need urgent modernisation and improvement. Recent capital investments announced such as the Kettering General Hospital Urgent Care Hub will continue to progress and will not be affected by the formation of the group model.”

A project group will be formed to develop the Group Management Model and joint clinical appointments will be made during the spring of 2020. The two Trust Boards will continue to operate as they do now.