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New chief appointed for ‘outstanding’ trust

Published on: 20 Jan 2022

A former deputy chief executive and director of finance at a mental health trust is taking over as its CEO, as its outgoing leader retires after almost 40 years in the NHS.

James Duncan will take up the role of chief executive at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Foundation Trust on 1 February, having worked at the organisation and its predecessors for more than two decades.

He takes over the role from John Lawlor, current chief executive, who is retiring after a 37-year career in the NHS.

During Mr Lawlor’s tenure, CNTW became one of the first mental health trusts in the country to receive an “outstanding” grade from the Care Quality Commission in 2016.

It was awarded the highest possible rating for a second time two years later, in 2018.

Mr Duncan said he was “honoured” to be taking over the role and added: “I have worked at CNTW and its predecessors for 21 years. Over that time, we have always had a collective commitment to work with and alongside the people we serve, to promote and deliver the best opportunities for hope, recovery and optimism for the future. 

“I promise to continue this work, and to advocate every day for people with addictions, gender diversity needs, learning disabilities, mental health needs, neurological disabilities and neurodiversity. I also promise to challenge inequalities, disadvantage and exclusion in every form, at every opportunity.

He added: “This is a great time for us to reflect on what we have learnt from the last two difficult years, and to think about how we can recover and rebuild the support we offer to our communities and our partner organisations.”

Mr Duncan, who lives in Gateshead, has 27 years’ experience in the health service, becoming head of finance at Morpeth’s Northgate Hospital in 2000. 

When that later merged with other organisations to become the trust now known as CNTW, he became executive director of finance and deputy chief executive, posts he has held since 2006.

Trust chair Ken Jarrold confirmed that Mr Duncan had been appointed to the role of chief executive following a robust recruitment process.

He said: “James will be a familiar face to many staff, as he has held the post of deputy chief executive and executive director of finance for CNTW for many years. 

“I’m sure they will join me in congratulating James and wishing him every success in his new post.”