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Collaboration 'works better than mergers in NHS'

By Vivienne Russell | 1 May 2013

The health service has a ‘poor track record’ of merging organisations successfully, the NHS Confederation said today.

Its report, Healthcare groups: an alternative to merger mania?, found that formal mergers could dent staff morale and lead to falls in productivity. Targeted alliances, time-limited partnerships and collaborative working between organisations tended to produce better outcomes.

The report, produced by the confederation’s Hospitals Forum in collaboration with health consultancy Finnamore, suggested that informal alliances working collaboratively on areas of shared interest might be a better way forward.

These could include mutual collaborations, through which providers pool resources for a particular function or service, or a more developed ‘federated’ model, in which partners delegate aspects of management to a group organisation that they co-own.

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: ‘The approaches in this briefing will of course need tailoring to local health economies, but the point of this paper is to remind people that joint working involves a buffet of options, not a fixed menu.

‘The new options for government through health care groups set out in this paper can strengthen rather than reduce the connections to local people, and help maintain safe local services. They could also mean less upheaval for staff and for patients, mayn of whom worry that they will lose a valued service or even their job.’

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