Two Teesside hospital trusts to form hospital group

18 January 2023

TWO NHS trusts in Teesside and North Yorkshire are to strengthen the way they work together by coming together as a hospital group.

The move by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust follows last year’s creation of a joint chair role for both organisations and comes as the two trusts continue to look beyond the pandemic to:

  • Improve the recruitment and retention of specialist doctors and nurses.
  • Join with local communities and partners to help improve the health and wellbeing of the populations they serve.
  • Secure the capital investment needed to rebuild and upgrade existing hospital facilities in Teesside and North Yorkshire.

As well as a joint chair role, both trusts last year created a Joint Partnership Board, which brings members of the two boards together to discuss common issues that affect both trusts.

The joint board has now agreed to form a hospital group to support both organisations’ shared goals for patients, service users and staff.

Under the hospital group model, each trust will remain as statutory organisations in their own right and are not merging. The new group model will be developed over the next two years, with a strong focus on place-based working with communities and partners across Teesside, North Yorkshire and neighbouring areas.

Across the country NHS organisations are increasingly working closer together as health services in England recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As hundreds of thousands of patients, service users and families in Teesside and North Yorkshire know, the two trusts’ local hospitals have been working together over many years. For example:

If a patient from Billingham needs specialist advice about a possible heart condition, they may receive their first outpatient appointment with a cardiologist and undergo a heart scan at the University Hospital of North Tees. If the team decides the patient needs a stent to fix a clogged artery, or a coronary artery bypass, the procedure or operation is carried out at The James Cook University Hospital’s specialist cardiac centre.

In another example, if a patient from Hartlepool requires special pain-killing spinal injection, they can receive this from a member of the South Tees spinal care team at a University Hospital of Hartlepool clinic.

The North Tees breast screening team delivers services across Teesside, North Yorkshire and Durham. The team scans patients in their top-of-the-line mobile scanning unit and were the first breast care team in the north east to restart services following the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic when routine screening across the nation was paused.

And during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as doctors and nurses cared for hundreds of people every day with the virus, cancer surgeons at hospitals across Teesside and North Yorkshire worked together to deliver more than 5,000 operations safely.

By formalising this partnership working through the creation of a hospital group, the two trusts will be better able to retain and attract specialist doctors and nurses in hard-to-recruit areas through better joint workforce planning and collaboration on both trusts’ shared goals.

Derek Bell, joint chair, said:

I am delighted that we have been able to take the important step to create a hospital group which will support greater collaboration across the communities we collectively serve. Our focus will only ever be on taking the decision that will positively impact on the experience of our staff and the quality of the care delivered to our communities.


Sue Page CBE, chief executive of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:

Together our two trusts are the area’s largest employers, with almost 15,000 staff and by formalising the way we work together beyond the pandemic, we hope to make a bigger and lasting impact for our patients, service users and fantastic colleagues.

Formalising the way we already work together by creating a hospital group is also essential if we are to retain the specialist clinicians we have today, recruit those we need in the months and years ahead and make our area one of the best places in the NHS to work.


Julie Gillon, chief executive at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said:

Creating a hospital group will strengthen our ability to collectively innovate together to continue delivering better outcomes for the Tees Valley and North Yorkshire. The group heralds an ambition for our workforce, our region and of course most importantly our patients, building on the work to date of both organisations to ensure that health inequalities for this region are addressed as a continued priority.


Sam Allen, chief executive of NHS North East and Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) said:

This is a positive development for both South Tees and North Tees which will strengthen the ability of both trusts to innovate together and continue to deliver better outcomes for people in the local communities in the future.

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