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CEO of trust with ‘deep-seated’ cultural and governance issues to retire

Published on: 20 May 2022

The long-serving CEO of a trust found to have ‘multiple’ corporate governance problems is stepping down after eight years at the helm.

Paul Jenkins, chief executive of Tavistock and Portman FT, has announced his retirement ahead of turning 60 next year.

It comes shortly after retired CEO of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear FT John Lawlor was appointed chair designate to take over from Paul Burstow in June.

In a statement, Mr Jenkins said: “In the next year I will be turning 60 and I have decided that it is the right time to take retirement from the NHS.

”It has been a great privilege to lead the Tavistock and Portman and to be part of an organisation which represents such an important and distinctive approach to mental health.

“It has been a particular honour to be at the helm as the trust celebrated its centenary in 2020.”

He will leave at the end of September 2022, according to an announcement on the trust’s website.

The move comes at a tumultuous time for the trust. The organisation commissioned an external firm to look into its leadership in late 2021.

The review, carried out by the Office of Modern Governance, took place following a period of intense scrutiny and its findings were published in the trust’s January board papers.

While the trust’s board was praised for a “consistent focus on the delivery of high quality of care”, the review also identified several “deep-seated” cultural issues, among them a reluctance of staff to speak up about concerns in light of a high-profile safeguarding employment tribunal.

A series of governance issues were also outlined in the review, with its authors criticising a lack of challenge and effective scrutiny of executives on behalf of non-executive board members.

Chief executive Paul Jenkins wrote in a foreword to the report that it presented a “unique opportunity to further renew and reinvigorate” governance arrangements within the trust.

The trust, which employs more than 700 staff, was rated ‘good’ overall by the Care Quality Commission in 2016. But its controversial gender identity unit was considered ‘inadequate’ following an inspection in October 2020.

While NHS England has commissioned an independent review into children and young people’s gender identity services, which is ongoing, an interim report has already raised significant issues.

Chair designate Mr Lawlor will join the trust next month. Its leaders have said actions identified in the strategic review will continue to be implemented by the new chair and outgoing chief executive until a new CEO is appointed.