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CEO who quit ahead of damning CQC report given new role at trust-hosted agency

Published on: 5 May 2023

The former chief executive of a major trust who stepped down after a CQC inspection rated its leadership ‘inadequate’ has been employed as a director of an NHS audit agency hosted by the provider.

Steve Warburton was appointed last month to a newly created director role at Mersey Internal Audit Agency, an NHS-owned body hosted by Liverpool University Hospitals.

He stepped down from LUH in 2021, citing personal reasons, a month before a highly critical Care Quality Commission report was published.

His appointment to a director role at MIAA has caused some internal concerns at the agency, because last year Mr Warburton was employed as a temporary consultant to carry out a “strategic review” of its consultancy arm, MIAA Solutions. This involved reviewing its capacity and staffing.

Documents seen by HSJ suggest the review has helped shape a subsequent restructuring, which has put several senior posts at risk of redundancy, but also created a new role of director of delivery for healthcare and transformation.

On 14 April, staff were told by email that Mr Warburton had been appointed substantively to the new position.

MIAA said the position was advertised publicly for two weeks and received more than 30 applications. It said Mr Warburton’s previous work as a consultant adviser was unrelated to the role.

There is no evidence proper processes have not been followed, although staff who spoke to HSJ questioned why the role was not initially advertised on an internal basis only, therefore giving priority to those at risk of redundancy.

They claimed they were not made aware of the new position internally.

In a statement, MIAA said: “The appointment followed an open process with the role being advertised internally and externally, culminating in over 30 applications. Steve’s previous work as a consultant adviser for MIAA was not related to this new role. We look forward to welcoming Steve to the MIAA team.”

MIAA is an NHS shared service that delivers internal audit, assurance and consultancy services to multiple public and third sector organisations primarily in the North West region. It was established in 1990 and operates independently, although its staff are contracted by LUH.

On leaving LUH, Mr Warburton was offered a role within the Cheshire and Mersey Integrated Care System, which he held for seven months before working for MIAA. Prior to LUH, he led the former Aintree University Hospitals Foundation Trust for several years.

Mr Warburton was contacted for comment.