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Trust chief steps down after ‘extraordinary journey’

Published on: 27 Sep 2023

The chief executive of an ambulance trust has announced his resignation after just over three years in the NHS.

Will Warrender joined South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust in June 2020 after a career in the Royal Navy. In a message to staff yesterday, seen by HSJ, he said he had decided it was the “right time…to explore new opportunities”.

He said he was giving early notice to the trust to allow time to recruit an interim chief before a search for a substantive replacement, but did not state a departure date.

“We have been on an extraordinary journey during this time and I am so proud of the way we have handled the impact and aftermath of the covid pandemic, alongside other pressures facing urgent and emergency care in the South West,” he said,

“I feel it is now the right time for me to move on and hand over the reins to my successor to lead the organisation through the next chapter of its development.”

Chair Stephen Otter thanked him for his dedication to public service and his contribution to the trust “during the most challenging time for the NHS and ambulance services in particular”.

The South West has suffered severe ambulance performance problems even worse than the rest of England in recent years, with a particularly steep drop since winter 2021-22, although much of it has been laid at the door of accident and emergency handover delays. Heart attack victims in Cornwall were facing waits of around 200 minutes in mid-2022 with category 2 performance across the whole region hitting two hours in April 2022.

A Care Quality Commission report on the Cornish urgent and emergency care system highlighted dozens of patients who died or suffered “severe harm” after long waits for ambulances.

Mr Warrender, 54, spent more than 30 years in the Royal Navy, leaving as a rear admiral. He had commanded several warships and also served as assistant head of UK military operations at the Ministry of Defence and commander of the UK Maritime Component in the Persian Gulf before taking charge of operational standards and training.