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Trust boss joins ‘service failures’ private provider

Published on: 13 Jul 2022

A former NHS chief executive has taken up a senior executive role for a large independent provider whose NHS-funded services have seen major quality failures. 

Stephen Firn, who was chief executive of Oxleas Foundation Trust until 2016 and is now a deputy chair of a FT, has been appointed to lead the Cygnet Healthcare’s healthcare division.

Cygnet has previously faced national criticism for the quality of its hospitals  and in 2021 NHS England warned the provider it would not tolerate further “service failures”.

Mr Firn will step down from his current non-executive director roles at Cygnet and at Surrey and Borders FT, where he is deputy chair.

Mr Firn also led work for NHS England nationally developing new care models in mental health, part of which focused on reducing expensive inpatient placements often with private providers.

He said: ”I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to draw upon my 40 years of experience working in NHS mental health services to ensure users of Cygnet services receive treatment and care that is the equal or better of any in the country.”

In recent months, leaders have pledged to improve quality.

Group CEO Tony Romero said: “We have already benefited considerably from Stephen’s knowledge and oversight as a non-executive director and I am delighted that he will further strengthen our senior executive team with his expertise and leadership.

“Cygnet has grown over recent years and this appointment and new structure represents our absolute focus on quality across all facilities.”