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New chair will ‘reset group model’ across three trusts

Published on: 18 Apr 2023

Three Midlands hospital trusts with a combined turnover of more than £2bn are moving to share a single chair, who wants to drive further collaboration and partnership between them, HSJ  can reveal.

John MacDonald, who is chair of University Hospitals of Leicester Trust, will now take on the same role for Kettering General Hospital Foundation Trust and Northampton General Hospital Trust.

Mr MacDonald – who will start in the new roles on 1 July – is also currently chair of Derby and Derbyshire Integrated Care Board, but he will step down from this role.

All the trusts have significant performance problems in recent years, and Kettering and Northampton have seen major leadership instability over the past seven months.

Alan Burns stood down as chair of Kettering and Northampton last month, having brought them together under joint leadership and announced they were a “hospital group”. But the pair have been without a substantive chief executive  since October, when Simon Weldon went on extended leave. Deborah Needham is their interim CEO.

The trusts declined to comment on whether they were now planning to appoint Richard Mitchell, the current Leicester Hospitals CEO, across all three trusts. 

In a statement to HSJ they stressed the move “will not change the trust board arrangements” at any of the trusts. 

However, they said the joint chair would “help drive further collaboration” between the three in areas such as research, clinical development and recruitment.

Mr MacDonald was chair of Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust for four years, where he recruited Mr Mitchell as CEO and oversaw a turnaround. Mr MacDonald then recruited Mr Mitchell to be Leicester CEO in October 2021.

Mr MacDonald said of his appointment: “I am very much looking forward to working with the team to strengthen clinical collaboration and reset the group model.

”I am grateful for the work of my predecessor, Alan Burns, who established and led the UHN group. Building on this, Northampton and Kettering will continue to work closely together…

“We are also keen to explore closer partnership working between Leicester, Kettering and Northampton.”