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Special measures trust appoints police and fire chief as new chair

Published on: 14 Oct 2021

A mental health trust that was placed into NHS England’s new ‘recovery support programme’ this summer has appointed a new chair.

Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust has announced Zoe Billingham will join next month and succeed Marie Gabriel, who has been its chair since January 2018.

The two will conduct a handover before Ms Gabriel’s term ends in December, the trust confirmed. 

Ms Billingham was appointed Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary in 2009 and HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services in July 2017, before stepping down earlier this year. 

Prior to that, she was a deputy director in the Cabinet Office, from January 2000 until February 2005, before serving as a director in the now-defunct Audit Commission for four years until September 2009.

Ms Billngham said: “I am incredibly excited to have been chosen to be chair. Everyone I’ve spoken to, internally and externally, has told me that the trust is an improving organisation, led with compassion.”

“For my part, I am keen to work with and listen very hard to you and those with lived experience, as your collective insight will help make even better services,” she added.

Ann Radmore, regional director for NHS East of England, said: “Zoe’s local knowledge, professional background and strong interest in advocating for improved services for patients with mental health conditions, make her an excellent ‘fit’ with NSFT and its staff.”

“I look forward to working with her in the months and years to come,” Ms Radmore said.

The news comes after NSFT appointed a substantive chief executive this summer after a previous candidate withdrew his application for the role amid a review of his qualifications.

Mason Fitzgerald was sacked by the trust after it emerged he did not hold a masters of law degree from the University of Georgia in the United States, despite two annual reports stating that he did.

Adam Morris was brought in on an interim basis before Stuart Richardson was appointed permanently.

The trust was placed into NHSE’ new “recovery support programme” in July this year, which replaced the previous “special measures” regime, alongside several other trusts and health systems.