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Ex-national finance chief drafted in to chair troubled trust

Published on: 2 Feb 2023

A former national finance and performance director has been appointed to chair Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust for 12 months.

His appointment follows the blocking of incumbent Sue Musson’s reappointment by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care.

Liverpool University Hospitals has been placed in NHSE’s recovery support programme, the successor regime to special measures. NHSE oversaw Mr Flory’s appointment.

LUH’s new chair will take up his new post at the end of February. He will also continue in his current role as chair of Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board.

Mr Flory is a former director general at the Department of Health, responsible for NHS finances, performance and operations, and has a reputation for gripping these issues strongly in local organisations.

Last year, an external review flagged various issues around financial governance at LUH, saying the underlying financial deficit had deteriorated by £73m since it was formed three years ago, which was largely due to a “substantial increase in the trust’s recurrent cost base during the pandemic, with no clear plan on existing costs which were funded through non-recurrent income”.

It found whole-time equivalent staff had increased by 960, which was “not proportionate to changes in activity volumes or bed occupancy over the same period, and only a small amount of the cost growth is evidenced in business cases”.

While HSJ understands it is the trust’s financial problems that have led NHSE to conclude that Mr Flory is the right person to chair the trust, the organisation has many other problems too.

The merger which led to the trust’s formation was “bedevilled with problems” some of which have yet to be fully resolved. The trust’s move to a new home has also been highly controversial, with doctors claiming they were embarrased and ashamed” by the care being delivered at the recently completed Royal Liverpool Hospital. 

Mr Flory led several health bodies in the North East before moving into national roles. After working at the DH and as deputy chief executive of the NHS, he was made CEO of the former Trust Development Authority in 2012 to 2015.

The TDA was one of the organisations criticised by the review into the Liverpool Community Health Trust scandal, which happened between 2010 and 2014.

In 2015, Mr Flory took a job leading a hospital group in Qatar, from which he returned in 2020. He was briefly the interim chair of Cheshire and Mersey ICS, before it became a statutory body.