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NHSE director joins trust as ‘chief officer’

Published on: 6 Mar 2024

An NHS England national director has been hired to lead a major hospital grappling with severe financial problems.

Peter Ridley, previously number two to Julian Kelly as deputy chief finance officer at NHSE, was recently appointed as “chief officer” at Portsmouth Hospitals University Trust.

According to the trust, Mr Ridley will be responsible for leading the development and delivery of “integrated clinical, operational, and corporate services” and will work closely with Isle of Wight Trust chief officer Joe Smyth to “drive improvements across both organisations”.

The two trusts have had a joint CEO, Penny Emerit, since May, and said the “chief officer” posts are part of their new combined management structure.

A PHU spokesperson said: “After the appointment of Penny Emerit as group chief executive for Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, a new leadership model was formed to ensure we have strong and experienced leadership across both trusts. Peter will take up a key role in this structure.

“Peter brings with him a wealth of NHS experience in senior roles and joins us from NHS England where he held the role of deputy chief finance officer. He has also held roles leading strategy and performance at the Royal Free London Foundation Trust. We are delighted that Peter will be joining PHU and look forward to welcoming him later this month.”

Hampshire and Isle of Wight is one of the most financially challenged systems, having planned a £118m deficit for the 2023-24 financial year.

The integrated care board and all its providers, including PHU, have been in “segment 4” of NHSE’s oversight framework — the lowest rung — since June, due to “critical” finance concerns. This means NHSE has close oversight and requires national sign-off for a swathe of key decisions, particularly on spending.

The new leadership model at PHU and IoW was introduced in part to improve financial efficiency.

NHSE is currently in the process of hiring a replacement deputy CFO, with applications for the role set to close on 1 April.