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Inexperienced trust CEOs get extra support after NHSE concerns

Published on: 2 May 2023

Concerns over the number of trusts being run by first-time chief executives has prompted NHS England to offer an increased support package for new leaders, HSJ has learned.

The programme is being piloted in the North West region, where there are at least six trusts led by relatively new first-time CEOs.

Sources in the region said NHSE was concerned about the number of new and inexperienced chiefs in the region currently, rather than about any individuals. They said the regulator believes less experienced CEOs may benefit from increased help and advice from peers and regional teams.

In an email to trusts in mid-April, seen by HSJ, NHSE signposted leaders to a package of support programmes which are available.

Regional workforce director Christopher Cutts added in the email: “Newly appointed CEOs and chairs will be invited to one-to-one calls with Richard Barker, regional director, the NW Leadership Academy and myself as regional director of workforce, spanning across the first three months in role.

“We hope these conversations will provide invaluable support to the individuals as well as enabling a collaborate partnership moving forward.”

The email set out several available programmes, including a new CEO development eBook, CEO mentoring, and a pre-existing peer support group run by NHS Confederation.

First-time CEOs appointed in the North West in the last 18 months include Tim Welch, of Cheshire and Wirral Partnership; Ged Murphy, of East Cheshire Trust; Ian Moston, of Mid Cheshire Hospitals; Anthony Hassall, of Pennine Care; Martin Hodgson, of East Lancashire Hospitals; and Chris Oliver, of Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation Trust.

NHSE said the pilot will also involve some new CEOs from the North East and Yorkshire, where Mr Barker is also regional director.

A spokeswoman said the programme would create an “informal space” for CEOs to connect and shape a peer network, adding: “This space will provide the opportunity to build relationships by getting to know each other and exploring what collectively each brings to their role and how they will support each other.

“It will complement other resources available like the national CEO handbook. The network is facilitated by an expert facilitator, who is part of our leadership academy’s faculty.”