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Trust CEO to retire after four decades in the NHS

Published on: 11 Aug 2023

A long-serving trust chief executive has announced she will retire in April after 41 years in the NHS.

Sarah Dugan is stepping down as chief executive officer at Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care Trust after 12 years in the post.

Ms Dugan is the third NHS chief executive and second mental health trust leader to announce their retirement within a week.

Among the significant events of her tenure was the trust’s expansion of its mental health and learning disability services into Herefordshire in 2020.

However, the trust was criticised earlier this year for safety and leadership issues at its adult acute wards and is awaiting the results of a well-led review.

Ms Dugan was previously chief executive of Dudley Primary Care Trust. Before that, she held various roles within the West Midlands, including at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust.

The trust said Ms Dugan, a nurse by background, was keen to support the provider through the pandemic and into the recovery phase before retiring.

Trust chair Mark Yates said: “Sarah’s leadership to the trust, and in more recent years within our local health and care system, has been hugely influential and she will be greatly missed.

“I, along with colleagues across the trust and local health and care system have huge respect for Sarah and all that she has achieved over the past 41 years, especially in the past 12 years within Herefordshire and Worcestershire.  

“We will miss Sarah’s skilful leadership but we look forward to working alongside her over the final few months of her exemplary career to continue our journey of achievements and improvements. We wish Sarah the very happiest of retirements when it begins next spring – her commitment and insightful, experienced leadership will leave us with a lasting positive legacy.” 

HWHC’s services are currently under increased scrutiny from regulators. The trust retained its overall rating as “good” after an inspection in February but its acute wards at the Hill Crest facility in Redditch were rated “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission.

Inspectors identified a “significant deterioration” in safety and quality at Hill Crest and the trust cut its bed numbers from 18 to 10 due to unsafe staffing levels.

The CQC returned to the trust in May this year for a well-led inspection. The results of that are expected in the autumn.