Two east London NHS Trusts have taken the next step in their plans for greater collaboration by hiring a group chief executive, the first to work across both organisations.

Barts Health NHS Trust (Barts) and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) announced Shane DeGaris is to take on the new role, which he said he is "honoured and excited" to begin.

Originally from Australia, Shane has held positions including deputy chief executive at Barts Health for the last four years and chief executive of Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

He will officially take over in August, when Dame Alwen Williams steps down as chief executive of Barts and the single accounting officer for the collaboration with BHRUT.

The role was first advertised in March, and attracted international interest.

Jacqui Smith - the former Labour MP and home secretary who is currently chair-in-common of the two trusts - said: “Shane’s appointment as the new group chief executive across the two organisations will provide stable and effective leadership for both at this crucial time.

“We already have strong local leadership through the hospital chief executives at Barts Health, and a permanent trust chief executive at BHRUT. They will be accountable for maintaining robust links with our communities and partners so together we provide the best possible care for our patients.

“With Shane, I look forward to developing the collaboration between the two trusts. By working effectively together with a shared purpose, we can address unwarranted variation and inequality in access, experience and outcomes across our population.”

Shane said: “I am honoured and excited to take on this challenge. Colleagues in both bodies know me as a values-based leader and a people person who focuses on the needs of our staff and patients.

“I am committed to continuing our collaboration in a way that brings our people with us and uses our combined resources to address inequalities. Together we want to - and can - be the best for our communities.”

Barts and BHRUT have been engaged in a partnership aiming for greater collaboration between the two trusts.

As part of this, the trusts created the chair-in-common role and seconded senior staff, in addition to the new group chief executive position.

Concerns have been raised about the partnership's implications, however, with Ms Smith last year having to deny suggestions a “mega-merger” was taking place and Dame Margaret Hodge, Barking MP, speaking out with her concerns.