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Northern Care Alliance NHS Group brings together 17,000 NHS staff to serve 1m people

Two of the biggest NHS Trusts in the country have come together to create one of the largest NHS healthcare organisations in Greater Manchester and the North West, in what is being described as an ‘exciting opportunity’ to serve a population of over 1 million people under a new Group arrangement of hospitals and community healthcare services.

The new Northern Care Alliance NHS Group brings together five local hospitals, 2,000 beds, specialist and acute services, a range of community services and over 17,000 staff from Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (PAT).

The Northern Care Alliance NHS Group is being led by Sir David Dalton who has been Chief Executive of both Trusts since taking charge of Pennine Acute Trust (PAT) in April last year. Since April 2016, Pennine Acute Trust has benefited from joint working and support from Salford Royal under the leadership of Chairman Jim Potter, and Sir David Dalton.
For the past 15 years The Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust which was formed in April 2002, has run four hospitals - The Royal Oldham Hospital, Rochdale Infirmary, Fairfield General Hospital in Bury and North Manchester General Hospital. More recently it expanded its provision of integrated and community services in North Manchester and Rochdale borough.

Salford Royal is one of the top performing NHS Foundation Trusts in the country, achieving an ‘outstanding’ rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in 2015 - the first in the North of England. It is also the first Trust with integrated acute and community services to earn this rating.
With an operating budget of £1.3 billion, the new Alliance will provide the benefits of scale but deliver this locally through multiple hospital sites and local healthcare services.

Four Care Organisations for Oldham, Bury/Rochdale, North Manchester and Salford are now responsible for providing healthcare services to local communities under the Alliance. Each Care Organisation and hospital site has its own director leadership team led by a Chief Officer and consisting of a Medical Director, Director of Nursing, and Finance Director.
Whilst the Care Organisations provide hospital care, they play a much broader role in each locality and are supporting the establishment of new integrated models of care. Each Care Organisation is working closely with local Councils to develop Integrated Care Organisations (ICOs) to join together health and care services and shift more care into the community. The Northern Care Alliance NHS Group is strongly placed to support the development of ICOs.

Jim Potter says: “Our new group structure of our Alliance, with individual Care Organisations within it, will deliver a local flavor and feel to healthcare delivery across the North East part of Greater Manchester. The benefits that will flow from Group to patients and staff should not be underestimated, not only for day-to-day service delivery, but also in areas such as staff recruitment and retention, research and development, and the application of IT digital systems and processes into the NHS."

Sir David Dalton adds: “These new local arrangements for our Care Organsiations for Oldham, Bury and Rochdale, Salford and North Manchester place the emphasis for operational management of health services where it matters - in each hospital and locality. They strengthen senior leadership support at hospital-level, enabling better engagement with staff and clinical teams. Compared with the previous, more remote Trust HQ they are closer to the ‘shop floor’, understanding the challenges and issues staff are facing. These teams will build strong relationships with each of our local health and social care partners."

Feedback from staff so far is positive. "Over the past year we have been working closely and positively with some of the fantastic staff at Pennine Acute Trust and using Salford Royal’s experience and great track record of patient safety, operational performance and staff engagement to support the hospitals and services provided across Oldham, Bury, Rochdale and North Manchester as part of their to improvement journey. We generally feel we have made a positive difference for patients and for staff in the 12 months that we’ve been making improvements. We still have a lot of work to do and will have for years to come, but we’re doing this because it’s worthwhile - and to be able to see staff saying it feels better, that the data we collect sees us moving in the right direction - feels good."