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CEO of struggling ICS to retire

Published on: 17 May 2023

The chief executive of one of England’s most challenged integrated care systems has announced her retirement.

Jane Milligan will leave Devon Integrated Care Board later this year after a two-year stint in charge of the troubled health economy.

Devon Integrated Care System is under the highest tier of oversight and scrutiny by NHS England (segment four of the system oversight framework). It has an underlying deficit of more than £240m, is yet to eradicate two-year and 78-week waits for elective care, and has already said it will miss the next national target to end 65-week waits by next April.

Ms Milligan, a physiotherapist by background, said in a statement the ICS was “beginning to turn around the long-term problems of finance and performance” that have dogged the county.

She said retirement had not been an easy decision, but it felt like the right time for “someone else to take the reins”.

She continued: “There are still significant challenges ahead to improve the experiences of patients and staff in Devon, and it is vitally important that we address these while maintaining focus on health prevention and inequalities.”

The ICB was not able to provide more detail on when Ms Milligan would retire, but she said in her statement she would use her time left in the role to leave a “positive legacy” for her successor.

ICB chair Sarah Wollaston said Ms Milligan had been a “fantastic leader for Devon” whose “passion for equality and diversity has particularly stood out for me”.

“Of course, Devon has and continues to face huge performance and financial pressures, but thanks to Jane’s support and leadership we are beginning to turn the tide and address these longstanding challenges,” she said. 

Ms Milligan joined the ICS from north east London, where she had been accountable officer for the seven clinical commissioning groups, although she worked in Devon earlier in her career.

Prior to Ms Milligan’s appointment as CEO, the ICS – then operating as a sustainability and transformation partnership – had several interim leaders after failing to recruit a suitable leader in late 2017.

Following its unsuccessful recruitment after the retirement of Angela Pedder (now a non-executive director at University Hospitals Plymouth Trust), the STP was led jointly by two provider CEOs in the area (Suzanne Tracey and Mairead McAlinden) in an interim capacity.

The STP then appointed Sophia Christie as its accountable officer in spring 2018, but she left just three months after her role was formalised. NHS troubleshooter Philippa Slinger was subsequently appointed in 2019 and stayed in post until Ms Milligan’s appointment.

Several experienced NHS CEOs have been drafted in at varying times to support Devon’s leadership as it grapples with its emergency care, elective and financial problems.