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Bullying culture trust seeks ‘fair and supportive’ CEO

Published on: 17 May 2023

A struggling trust has started recruitment for its new substantive chief executive, after a review found its leadership had become ‘overzealous and coercive’.

University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust is seeking a new group CEO, whom interim chair Dame Yve Buckland said in a note to staff “will have the ability to be fair and supportive” under pressure.

Recruitment starts this week and is expected to conclude by the first week of July. Two reviews of the trust – concerning culture and leadership  – are expected to conclude by the end of June.

A third review – into patient safety – was published in spring and warned leadership at the trust had become “overzealous and coercive”. Speaking to HSJ, the review’s lead author Mike Bewick said that while his overall view was UHB was a “safe” place to receive care, his team had been “disturbed” by consistent reporting of a bullying culture.

The CEO post is being widened out to a “group” position after it emerged the trust was planning to appoint four individual chief executives for its four hospitals, which have differing locations and patient populations.

In the note to staff, Dame Yve wrote that the trust will be seeking a “truly exceptional and progressive person”, adding the appointment is “pivotal” in starting a new chapter for the organisation, in a “very challenging environment”.

She added: “There are very few leadership positions in the NHS that offer such scale of opportunity to have a significant and positive impact for patients, colleagues and the population we serve.

“Most importantly, it will be essential that the successful candidate will live and breathe our values of kind, connected, and bold, as well as have the ability to be positive, fair and supportive, under pressure, and deliver a wide range of competing priorities.”

Former chief operating officer Jonathan Brotherton, who worked at Heart of England FT until its merger with UHB in 2018, is currently interim CEO.

He took over from David Rosser, who left the post at the end of last year for a secondment to the local integrated care board  and then announced his retirement in March, on the day the highly critical review into UHB  was published.

Recruitment for the four hospital-based CEOs is also under way.