Skip to main content

Three directors submit grievances about ICB’s leadership

Published on: 20 Jun 2024

Three directors have submitted grievances about the leadership of an integrated care board over the past three months, HSJ has been told.

HSJ understands the senior staff at Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin ICB lodged grievances, which included concerns about the capability, conduct, and capacity of chief executive Simon Whitehouse.

The ICB told HSJ it had received two grievances, one of which was later withdrawn and another which is currently being investigated. It said the third complaint was a “freedom to speak up concern”, rather than a grievance.

However, while HSJ cannot name the complainants, well-placed sources said all three complaints were submitted to the ICB as grievances, one of which has been withdrawn as part of an exit agreement.

The ICB added that any grievances are investigated in line with its official policy to ensure disputes are settled in a fair and consistent manner.

It comes amid significant recent changes to the senior leadership team. Since November, six senior members of staff have left the ICB.

They include the chief nursing officer, chief medical officer, chief operating officer, deputy finance director, director of urgent and emergency care, and head of digital.

One senior manager close to the situation told HSJ that people are “voting with their feet and leaving”.

While the ICB confirmed six senior members of staff had announced plans to leave, it said the reasons for this were “varied, including retirement, promotion/career progression, secondment/acting up opportunities and personal choice”.

It also pointed to major organisational change, which has been affecting many ICBs in recent months, as a factor.

A spokesman also said: “The ICB is undergoing a period of significant organisational change, not least to be able to deliver the 30 per cent running cost allowance reduction.

“Understandably, this has had and continues to have an impact on staff and for some this has led to them reviewing their current position and future career plans.”

They added: “We are pleased with the calibre of staff we have been able to attract to the ICB and are in the process of implementing our new organisational structure and recruiting high quality candidates to fill senior level vacancies.

“Throughout this difficult process, we’ve remained committed to fostering an inclusive, supportive and compassionate environment for all our staff.”

Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin is the smallest of the 42 integrated care systems and is grappling with several big problems. It has been in NHS England’s most challenged tier for performance and finance since it was established in 2022, and has a very large financial deficit relative to its size, although there has been some improvement on long-standing care quality concerns at its hospitals