An “outstanding” mental health trust will share a joint chief executive and chair with an acute trust covering the same patch, it has been announced.
Leaders at Dorset Healthcare, which provides community and mental health services, and acute provider Dorset County Hospital, say the trusts are not merging. They will retain separate boards, but have joint leadership.
Trust chiefs say they believe this model will allow leaders to take a “helicopter view” of the organisations and improve care by integrating physical and mental healthcare, tackling health inequalities and joining up workforce planning.
Recruitment for the posts will begin shortly, leaders said.
Currently, both trusts have acting chief executives, and the tenures of both their chairs – Andy Willis for Dorset Healthcare and Mark Addison for Dorset County Hospital – ends next year.
Dorset Healthcare’s last substantive CEO, Eugine Yafele, was ranked HSJ’s top chief executive for 2022. He left for University Hospitals of Bristol and Weston earlier this year. Dawn Dawson was named acting CEO following his departure. The organisation was rated “outstanding” overall by the Care Quality Commission in 2019.
Meanwhile, Patricia Miller was recently appointed chief executive of Dorset ICS after leading Dorset County Hospital since 2014. Nick Johnson is currently interim CEO.
Dorset County chair Mr Addison said the trusts’ link-up builds on the already strong partnership of the two organisations.
He added: “A shared chief executive and shared chair will take a ‘helicopter view’ across our two organisations and help to address any blockers that may be affecting our ability to provide the best quality care.”
Meanwhile, Dorset Healthcare’s chair Mr Willis stressed the move was different from a merger, which would cause “significant upheaval” and “distract us” from improving services.