- St Helens and Knowsley’s Ann Marr will also head Southport and Ormskirk
- Follows news of Trish Armstrong-Child’s departure from Southport and Ormskirk
- Southport and Ormskirk been seen unsuitable as standalone provider for some time
St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust chief executive Ann Marr will also become Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust’s CEO from Monday 20 September.
The two trusts will have a partnership agreement with a focus on creating high quality and sustainable services at Southport and Ormskirk which already works with St Helen’s and Knowsley on some services — for example, its pathology service has been supported by Whiston Hospital since 2014. NHS England has backed the move.
When asked if the agreement was the prelude to a merger, a spokesman for Southport and Ormskirk, said: ”It is the trusts’ intention to work towards a more substantial structural partnership in the longer term, subject to legal and regulatory processes.” The trust boards would not meet jointly but executives from both would sit on a strategy and operations committee, he added.
The moves follow Southport and Ormskirk’s chief executive Trish Armstrong-Child being appointed to lead Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust. At the time, well-placed sources told HSJ her departure made way for Southport and Ormskirk, which has long been deemed unsuitable as a standalone provider, to be taken over by St Helens.
Neil Masom, 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. Only this year, the [Care Quality Commission] 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.”
He added there were still underlying weaknesses in the trust’s finances and around attracting and retaining staff. “We have the skill and the will but not the resources or the scale to be the outstanding hospitals our community deserve,” he said.
St Helens and Knowsley is rated “outstanding” by the CQC. Southport and Ormskirk is rated “requires improvement”.
St Helens and Knowsley’s deputy chief executive Anne-Marie Stretch will become managing director for Southport and Ormskirk, with day-to-day responsibility for the trust. Both Ms Marr and Ms Stretch will become members of the Southport and Ormskirk board.