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Exec clear-out at teaching trust revealed

Published on: 19 Sep 2023

A major teaching trust confirmed an overhaul of its executive team today, including the sudden announcement that its chief medical officer is leaving. 

Simon Ball told staff at University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust of his decision to step down from his role in an email yesterday evening.

It comes amid ongoing investigations into care quality and culture at the trust, following a string of concerns over recent years, reported by HSJ since 2018. 

Professor Ball is one of five senior executives departing, with chief legal officer David Burbridge and head of out of hospital services Andrew McKirgan also having moved on. 

In addition, the trust today confirmed chief transformation officer Cherry West and chief innovation officer Tim Jones would no longer be part of its executive team. 

They do not feature in a list of executive directors for its new group operating model, due to be introduced next month, and shared with HSJ today. 

The list — which also confirms that several key posts remain vacant — is as follows: 

  • Chief executive officer - Jonathan Brotherton
  • Chief finance officer - Julian Miller
  • Chief nurse - Margaret Garbett 
  • Chief people officer - Cathi Shovlin 
  • Chief medical officer – Prof Simon Ball (until a successor appointed)
  • Chief strategy and digital officer - Mo Hussain (from December)
  • Chief operating officer - vacant (recruitment process concludes in September) 
  • Hospital executive director, Heartlands Hospital - Dr Rifat Rashid 
  • Hospital executive director, Solihull Hospital - Mr Martin Richardson
  • Hospital executive director, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham - vacant (recruitment process concludes in September) 
  • Hospital executive director, Good Hope Hospital - vacant (recruitment process concludes in September)
  • Director of communications - Fiona Alexander 

In his resignation email, Professor Ball added: “This [new model] will serve us well as it develops… I think now is therefore a good time to pass on my role, so that a successor can contribute to the elaboration of the group model at an early stage.  

“I will, of course, be continuing to work to support its implementation over the coming months, to ensure a smooth transition to that successor.” The trust said he was not leaving the role immediately, and it has not given a departure date. 

These latest leadership changes come as the trust is expecting the imminent results of unannounced Care Quality Commission inspections and a culture review carried out by external consultants thevaluecircle. 

UHB was heavily criticised earlier this year in two reports into patient safety and leadership, the latter of which found misogyny and “medical patriarchy” was widespread. 

UHB is also currently recruiting for a deputy CEO and chief operating officer, a position held by Jonathan Brotherton until he was made CEO when his predecessor, David Rosser, resigned. 

On Professor Ball’s departure, Mr Brotherton said: “I am immensely grateful for Professor Ball’s clinical contributions and his commitment to UHB, across the past five years, as chief medical officer. 

”I am pleased that he will continue to support the implementation and development of our new group model, as we search for his successor over the coming months.” 

Hospital medical directors named 

Meanwhile, the trust has announced to staff the appointment of medical directors for each of its four main hospital site teams, several of whom have held senior roles in recent years. 

Pratima Gupta, who earlier this year said she was “devastated” after several consultants sent Professor Ball a letter declaring no confidence in her leadership of obstetrics and gynaecology, was among the new hospital-based medical director appointments. She will take up the role at Solihull Hospital. 

The maternity service is one of two placed into the General Medical Council’s enhanced monitoring regime in recent months following concerns about consultant support of juniors, with haematology trainees also receiving intensive support after junior medics reported “crying every day”. 

Peter Hewins, current divisional director of a team which includes the neurosurgery and haematology specialties, has been appointed medical director of Queen Elizabeth Hospital. 

Khaled Elfandi, currently medical director of one of UHB’s divisions, will be Good Hope Hospital’s medical director; and Raj Verma will join from North Cumbria Integrated Care Trust to be medical director of Heartlands Hospital.