New chair of special measures trusts 'likes a challenge'

Alan Burns, chair of Princess Alexandra since December, has agreed to take on the same role at Kettering, after he was approached by NHS Improvement.

Both trusts are rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission and in special measures. They are not part of the same sustainability and transformation partnership.

On carrying out the two roles, Mr Burns told HSJ he “likes a challenge”. He added that “solutions [to poorly performing trusts] usually lie in the same territory; clarity of direction, strategy and leadership”.

Mr Burns said: “I will also be responsible for the recruitment of the [Kettering] trust’s new chief executive and be working closely with the council of governors and staff to set a clear strategic direction for the trust.”

It is understood that Kettering’s interim chief executive, Fiona Wise, is not seeking to take on the role permanently.

Mr Burns confirmed that despite his new appointment he “would not renege on his commitment” to Princess Alexandra. He said he had “signed up to do a two year appointment [at that trust] and I want to do my best to get them out of special measures”. Mr Burns became chair of the Essex trust after it went into special measures.

He joined Princess Alexandra from Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust. After joining Hinchingbrooke in April 2015, he was part of the management team that turned the failing trust around. Hinchingbrooke was rated as good by the CQC in August 2016, less than two years after it was rated inadequate and placed in special measures.

Mr Burns has worked in the NHS for 43 years, including heading up four health authorities: Trent; Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire; Cambridgeshire; and North West Anglia. He has also been part of the prime minister’s office for public sector reform advisory group and vice chair of the NHS Confederation.

Kettering’s current chair, Graham Foster, stood down in July. The trust’s permanent chief executive, David Sissling, resigned last month after a period of prolonged sick leave since having a brain haemorrhage in September 2016.

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