Skip to main content

Trust appoints former Department of Health leader as CEO

Published on: 8 Apr 2022

A former Department of Health leader is set to take the helm at an East of England trust.

Matthew Coats, who has previously spent more than a decade in hospital management, will join West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals Trust as chief executive in July after Christine Allen announced her retirement in January.

The trust runs Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead hospitals.

In an email sent to staff, seen by HSJ, trust chair Phil Townsend announced Mr Coats’ appointment, saying: “Matthew will bring a wealth of experience to the role… We are extremely fortunate that his attachment to the values and mission of the NHS have brought him to our door.”

Mr Coats’ civil service career includes leading policy for emergency care, elective care and diagnostics as head of secondary care at DH – now the Department of Health and Social Care – and managing departmental strategy and transformation as chief operating officer at the Ministry of Justice.

His former roles also include director general for EU exit implementation in the Cabinet Office, head of the UK Border Force and head of immigration at the UK Border Agency.

Mr Townsend said Mr Coats’ NHS career included the “successful turnaround” of emergency care at East Kent Hospitals Trust, where he was operations director and then deputy chief executive.

He added: “I am confident that the challenging roles Matthew has excelled in so far will equip him very well for anything he will encounter here at West Herts Teaching Hospitals.

“Living locally, Matthew has been following our progress towards our goal of having new and better hospital buildings with interest. He will be a huge asset in pushing this forward and in forging strong partnerships across the health system as we continue to evolve the way care is delivered.”

The appointment comes just weeks after deputy chief executive Helen Brown announced she was also leaving to head up Whittington Health Trust as CEO.

The trust is part of the government’s new hospitals programme and wants to redevelop Watford General Hospital, as well as make improvements to its hospitals in St Albans and Hemel Hempstead.

But “delays and uncertainty” at the programme mean its key estate project is unlikely to be completed before 2026-27.