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CQC chief executive announces sudden departure

Published on: 25 Jun 2024

The chief executive of the Care Quality Commission has today told staff he will be leaving his role at the end of the week.

In a message to staff, Ian Trenholm said he had been thinking about “what next” for a while and will step down at the end of June. The CQC told HSJ it was his decision to step down and he would be taking a career break.

The message said there was a combination of personal reasons, including upcoming holiday, which explained the short period of time between staff being told and him leaving the regulator.

Deputy Kate Terroni will take over as interim CEO.

The announcement comes amid fresh scrutiny of the regulator as ministers launched a review of the CQC’s effectiveness last month.

Led by North West London Integrated Care Board chair Penny Dash, it will examine how the CQC’s recently updated assessment framework is working and whether its ratings were properly rewarding and incentivising the improvement of care.

His move leaves several people in interim leadership positions, including Ms Terroni. There are also several chief inspectors in interim positions, including former mental health director Chris Dzikiti who was recently appointed to cover the role of chief inspector of hospitals for Sean O’Kelly, who suffered a stroke in September.

Mr Trenholm joined the CQC in 2018.

He told staff: “This has been the longest I have ever been in a job, and I had been thinking about ‘what next’ for a while. However, I also didn’t want to leave in the middle of the very significant transformation programme we have been working on.

“On 10 June we delivered the final milestone of the programme and took the finance system live… Over the last few months, we have also been recruiting several new people into the broader leadership team, most of whom have now started, or are just about to start…

“The calling of the election means that whoever is leading the [CQC] from 4 July will need to build new relationships with the next government – this is important as whichever party wins there will be a big focus on the services we regulate. It wouldn’t be particularly helpful for me to start that process and then try and hand it over to someone else in a few months.

Reflecting on his six years at the helm, Mr Trenholm added: “I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together, and I am confident that the organisation will continue to evolve to help support the health and care system to provide good, safe care for people.”

He also acknowledged “not everything has gone well”, and there “remains a lot to do”.

Various staff surveys in recent years have shown considerable concern among the workforce about the CQC’s leadership, while the percentage of people recommending it as a place to work has also deteriorated.

Mr Trenholm also highlighted the positives, adding that the organisation managed to get through the covid pandemic together and changed the debate in areas such as learning disabilities, emergency medicine, maternity, and social care.

Before joining the CQC, Mr Trenholm had been chief executive of NHS Blood and Transplant since 2014. He began his career in the police service, and also held roles of chief operating officer at the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs and CEO of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.