Group name revealed for Teesside hospital trusts after a ‘lot of reflection’

The University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton, left, and right, The James Cook University Hospital
The University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton, left, and right, The James Cook University Hospital

Two long-standing hospital trusts have unveiled a new group name.

Moving forward the partnership between the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will simply be known as ‘University Hospitals Tees’.

The announcement was made in an e-mail to staff and stakeholder partners by group trust chairman Professor Derek Bell.

A new strapline ‘Caring Better Together’ has been chosen and a video produced providing a visual representation of the collaboration between the two organisations.

Prof Bell said it was important to note that both trusts would remain separate statutory organisations, while a spokeswoman confirmed they would retain their existing names.

In February both trusts signed a formal partnership agreement which will see them working more closely together in order to improve patient outcomes.

A series of appointments have also been made to new group executive roles with a new group chief executive officer Stacey Hunter beginning work earlier this year, while some senior managers have departed.

A new group board has been set up to oversee the development and delivery of a joint clinical strategy and met for the first time last month.

Meanwhile, changes have been made to the constitution of both trusts to align them as much as possible.

Prof Bell said: “This not a merger, rather a collaboration to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients and communities.”

But Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham, whose constituency includes the University Hospital of North Tees, in Hardwick, said he wasn’t convinced that the new group name was necessary and was suspicious of the motive behind it.

‘Outline their true agenda’ He said: “Maybe it is time for the trust chairman and regional NHS officials to come clean, explain what they are up to and outline their true agenda once and for all.”

Prof Bell’s message said there had been a “lot of reflection” on the identity of the grouping with an engagement process beginning in February,  which included contributions from staff, patients and partner organisations.

He said it was recognised that what had been put forward would be “subjective”, but it was hoped the ambitions of both trusts would continue to be supported.  In 2021 NHS Improvement, the regulatory body for NHS trusts, decreed that both North and South Tees should work together in accelerating strategic integration to secure a sustainable future for key services with both signing a memorandum of understanding that year.

But there have been tensions with several non-executive directors at North Tees, who challenged the proposals, previously resigning and a subsequent NHS investigation criticising the conduct of some individuals.

Between them the two hospital trusts employ about 15,000 people in total with practical benefits expected from closer ties such as more seamless internet access and car parking across sites, which include Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital.

The spokeswoman said any costs arising from the new group name would be “minimal”, adding: “The group name is a recognition of our collaboration to work to support a serious back drop of health inequalities for the Tees.

“Our collaborative voices will hopefully support recruitment ambitions, patient confidence and much more.”