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‘Witch-hunt’ trust finally gets new CEO

Published on: 25 Nov 2022

West Suffolk Foundation Trust has appointed a new substantive chief executive just over a year after Steve Dunn stood down from the role following a protracted bullying scandal.

Ewen Cameron, currently the director of improvement and transformation at Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust, will replace the hospital’s interim CEO Craig Black in the new year, the trust has announced.

Dr Cameron has been the improvement and transformation director at the Shelford Group trust since February 2018, and was also interim chief operating officer for CUH in 2021-22.

The former consultant gastroenterologist was the clinical lead for endoscopy and the clinical director of the Cambridge Bowel Cancer Screening Centre from 2007 until 2013, when he was appointed divisional director for medicine.

Mr Dunn stood down as the trust’s chief executive after what a damning review, published in December 2021, described as an “intimidating… flawed and not fit for purpose” hunt for a whistleblower, which had involved directors demanding staff provide fingerprints and handwriting samples.

The trust’s chair at the time, Sheila Childerhouse, also stood down in the wake of the review. Several other board members also stood down following allegations about the alleged “witch hunt” for the whistleblower, which were first published by The Times in January 2020.

The trust, which has also seen its Care Quality Commission rating downgraded from outstanding to requires improvement following the scandal breaking, now hopes it can draw a line under a distressing period and move forward with a new leadership team in place.

Announcing the appointment, WSFT chair Jude Chin admitted the trust “has been through a difficult couple of years – dealing with the pandemic and on top of that an NHS England-commissioned review into whistleblowing”.

He added: “Throughout this time, our interim chief executive, Craig Black, has done an incredible job in steadying the organisation and on behalf of our board and governors we would like to publicly thank Craig for stepping up through this challenging time. We are all hugely indebted to him.”

He continued: “Ewen joins us with a wealth of NHS experience, grounded in a clinical background as a gastroenterologist. His experience as chief operating officer at [CUH], where he has led a programme of continuous improvement, means he will bring a huge amount of knowledge and insight to the role.”

Dr Cameron said: “I am hugely honoured to be joining [WSFT]. It is an excellent healthcare organisation, with an incredibly dedicated and hardworking team delivering high-quality care for patients.

“I am really looking forward to bringing the experience I’ve gained in Cambridge as a doctor and leader to work on the exciting opportunities for improving the health of the local population and making West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust the best it can possibly be for patients and staff.”