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Top trust CEO quits for overseas job less than two years into role

Published on: 3 Nov 2023

A former HSJ top chief executive has announced he is leaving the NHS after accepting a job in Australia, less than two years into his current role.

Eugine Yafele, CEO of University Hospitals Bristol and Weston Foundation Trust, will step down in January to take up a new post in charge of Monash Health in Melbourne.

Mr Yafele, who was named HSJ’s top CEO in 2022 largely in recognition of work in his previous role, said his decision had “not been taken lightly”, but described the move as an “amazing opportunity and the right decision for my family”.

A former mental health nurse, Mr Yafele has worked in the NHS for 24 years and has led UHBW since March 2022.

UHBW is rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission.

Prior to UHBW, he was the CEO of Dorset Healthcare University FT, which he guided to an “outstanding” CQC rating in 2019. It was his first NHS CEO job.

Mr Yafele, who was also ranked sixth in HSJ’s top CEOs in 2023, said: “It’s fair to say the NHS draws you in – as does UHBW. It is with a heavy heart that I will be leaving this fantastic institution.

“I am so proud of all that we have achieved in the last few years as we have worked hard to deal with the aftermath of the pandemic, and ensure timely care for everyone who needs us.”

UHBW chair Jayne Mee said the trust would be sorry to see him leave, adding: “The fact that Eugine is consistently recognised as one of the most influential leaders in health acknowledges his significant contribution to health and care and is testament to his leadership qualities.”

The trust said plans to recruit a successor would be shared in “due course”.

HSJ research in the summer found 35 per cent of trusts had changed CEOs in the previous 18 months, and 60 per cent of trusts had CEOs for whom it was their first trust CEO post. At that point, the mean time in post of current trust CEOs was four years, but the median – preventing the handful of very long servers from pulling up the average – was just two years and five months.