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Experienced CEO joins ‘trust under great pressure’

Published on: 4 Sep 2023

A struggling South West trust has appointed a new chief executive officer on an interim basis amid on-going financial woes.

Royal Devon University Healthcare Foundation Trust announced on Friday that Paul Roberts would take over as interim chief executive until a permanent appointment is made. The process to appoint a substantive CEO is expected to take between nine and 12 months.

The appointment follows the departure in July of respected former CEO Suzanne Tracey, who left to care for her mother following a period of compassionate leave, but also amid concern among senior leaders in Devon about unrealistic financial asks being put on NHS trusts.

Mr Roberts was until recently chief executive of Gloucestershire Health and Care FT, a position from which he retired earlier this year having been in post since 2018.

In his 35 years in the NHS, Mr Roberts has served as a chief executive for 28 years, having previously led University Hospitals Plymouth Trust.

Mr Roberts said it was a “privilege” to lead the trust, though he acknowledged it is under “great pressure”.

He added: “My aim will be to support the board to ensure that colleagues feel valued and supported in their vital work and that our local communities are offered services to be proud of – both of which I know to be absolute priorities for the leadership team I am joining.”

Devon’s integrated care system is facing significant financial and performance-related challenges, with RDUH and all the county’s other acute trusts in segment four of NHS England’s strategic oversight framework.

RDUH chair Shan Morgan said: “[Mr Roberts] will bring his considerable expertise to the role, as we work to recover our operational and financial performance and embrace the learning from our recent CQC report, as well as deliver our trust strategy working with our partners.”