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Troubled trust appoints new CEO

Published on: 7 Jul 2021

A mental health trust has appointed a permanent chief executive after a previous candidate withdrew his application for the role following an inquiry into his qualifications.

Stuart Richardson RESIZE

Stuart Richardson

Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, which is in special measures, announced it has promoted deputy chief executive Stuart Richardson to the post this week.

He replaces interim chief executive Adam Morris, who joined on an initial six-month basis in May this year. This came after the trust’s former deputy chief executive, Mason Fitzgerald, withdrew his application for the role after a review was launched into his qualifications.

The last substantive chief executive, Jonathan Warren, retired at the end of March this year.

Previous annual reports for both NSFT and East London FT — where Mr Fitzgerald had been seconded from since 2019 — claimed he had a masters of law degree from the University of Georgia in the United States. However, an inquiry was launched after reports surfaced he did not hold this qualification.

The university told the BBC Mr Fitzgerald had attended two semesters of its law graduate programme but did not receive an LLM. 

Mr Fitzgerald returned to ELFT, but it was revealed on Wednesday he has been dismissed from the trust. 

Mr Richardson, who is a learning disability nurse by background, served as the trust’s chief operating officer for three years before becoming its deputy CEO in March 2021.

Before joining NSFT, he was the managing director of mental health and specialist services at Pennine Care FT from September 2017 until July 2018.

NSFT chair Marie Gabriel said: “As a hugely compassionate, respectful and inclusive person, Stuart lives the values we hold close as a trust. He is dedicated to quality, safety and what matters most to service users, their carers and the people he works with.

“We have come such a long way since 2018, and I am convinced, after a robust recruitment process, that Stuart’s leadership will enable us to move to the next stage of our improvement journey and enable us to sustain our progress.”

Mr Richardson said: “I feel so privileged to have been given the opportunity to lead the trust. I have learned so much from service users, colleagues and partners in my time at NSFT as we have worked together to improve services and we will continue to listen and improve.”

The Care Quality Commission upgraded NSFT from “inadequate” to “requires improvement” following its last inspection in November 2019. However, the regulator said the provider should remain in special measures.

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