The Chair of the trust which runs the Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble hospitals is to step down at the end of the summer to take up a new job on Merseyside.
Sue Musson will next week become interim chair of the embryonic Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the organisation formed from the planned merger of two trusts in Liverpool. But she will also continue in her role at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals (LTH) until September.
Speaking about her departure, Ms Musson said it had been “a privilege” to serve as LTH chair and added that overseeing a merger was the only thing which could have “tempted” her away from her current position. She arrived at the Trust in January 2017 and her term was due to last until Januray 2020.
Ms. Musson will still be in post at LTH during a forthcoming inspection by regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in August. The last time the Trust was inspected twelve months ago, it was rated as “requires improvement” – for the third time in four years.
Two other executive board members are also set to make long-planned departures over the summer, with deputy chief executive Paul Havey and director of nursing and midwifery Gail Naylor both retiring.
A source within the Trust has told the local democracy reporting service that their “mind boggles” that the changes are being made within weeks of the next CQC inspection.
“It’s an extraordinary time for these departures when one of the questions the CQC will be asking is whether the trust is ‘well-led’. You just wouldn’t do it within a few weeks of an inspection,” the source said.
“In fairness, there have been some improvements at the Trust and you can see that a concerted effort has been made to make things better.
“But the outcome of the latest inspection will probably determine the futures of others.”
Ms. Naylor’s replacement – her current deputy, Sarah Cullen – has been shadowing her boss for the past six months ahead of her imminent departure.
The new deputy chief executive, Jonathan Wood – currently holding an equivalent post at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust – will arrive at LTH in August in time for a handover period with Paul Havey before he leaves.
A separate source at the Trust described the arrangements as representing the “gold standard for continuity” which the CQC will be looking for.
The local democracy reporting service has also been told that some of the Trust’s governors - elected to represent the interests of the local community - had privately expressed “a loss of confidence” in Ms. Musson, following the introduction of controversial changes to the car parking system at the two hospitals late last year.
At the time, it was reported that there was a “mutinous” atmosphere amongst governors over how the introduction of the new system – which was dogged with teething troubles – had been handled.
However, Karen Partington, LTH chief executive, paid tribute to the work which Ms. Musson had done during her tenure at the Trust.
“Sue has been an extremely valuable member of the Board and will be greatly missed. Over the past two and a half years, she has demonstrated her wealth of knowledge and her passion for the NHS, our patients and our staff and we want to thank her for all that she has done during her time with us.”
Ms. Musson, who came to LTH from Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said she was looking forward to her new job in Liverpool – and thanked her colleagues in Lancashire for their support.
“It has been an enormous privilege to serve as chair of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for the past two and a half years, and I am very grateful to have held this role.
“Being offered the opportunity to deliver the planned merger of two major Trusts was the only opportunity that could have tempted me away from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals.
“Whoever succeeds me as Chair will be very fortunate to work with our exceptionally talented and caring staff and a fantastic Board and Council of Governors. I thank them all for their support and wish them the very best for the future,” Ms. Musson added.
A recruitment process is set to begin for a new chair at LTH, but if nobody has been appointed by the time of Ms. Musson’s departure in on 1st September, deputy chair Tim Watkinson will take over on an interim basis.
‘STAFF ARE KEEPING TRUST AFLOAT’
Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle, an arch critic of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals over the uncertain future of the town’s Accident and Emergency department, said he hoped a new chair would “get a grip” of the issues which the Trust faces.
“I’m very concerned that people who have been overseeing the way the Trust has been operating are now leaving the ship,” Sir Lindsay said.
“It’s the loyal staff, as ever, who are keeping things afloat.
“You see this merry-go-round of appointments within the NHS, where senior people move from one trust to another – meaning new people cannot find a way in,” he added.