Updated: New chief executive for trust with worst A&E in the country

Susan Acott will take over as interim chief executive at East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust, which has recently had the worst accident and emergency performance in England.


Previous chief executive Matthew Kershaw resigned last month after the trust reported months of very poor performance against the A&E four hour target.

East Kent is the worst performing trust in England on A&E so far in 2017-18, with 30 per cent of patients waiting over four hours.

Ms Acott will work alongside former Royal College of Nursing chief executive Peter Carter, who was appointed as interim chair earlier this month. He will succeed Nikki Cole on 17 October. Ms Acott will join the trust on 16 October until 31 March 2018.

She has been chief executive at Dartford and Gravesham since 2010. Her role at that trust will be filled by Gerard Sammon, director of strategy and planning, while she is at East Kent.

She has guided the organisation through a difficult period. A planned merger with Medway FT was abandoned and the trust had to take a different direction, taking on some services at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup and working more closely with Guy’s and St Thomas’s FT.

Ms Acott takes over at a fraught time for East Kent. Consultation on significant acute service changes is expected to launch early next year amid fears that Kent and Canterbury Hospital could lose services. The Canterbury constituency was unexpectedly won by Labour in June’s election, adding a political dimension to rows over reconfiguration.

The health economy is also showing signs of strain with GP closures and an underperforming NHS 111 and out of hours contract being handed back to the area’s clinical commissioning groups next July. The acute trust had to reduce services for patients seeking urgent or emergency care in Canterbury after Health Education England raised concerns over junior doctors’ supervision.

The trust’s A&E issues are longstanding and may not be easily solved. Recruitment for doctors’ posts, especially at Margate, is ongoing.

Ms Acott said: “I am delighted to come to East Kent Hospitals as interim chief executive and I look forward to working with staff, patients and the communities the trust serves to further progress the trust’s work to provide excellent hospital services for local people and further strengthen the close working between the NHS organisations in Kent.” Ms Cole said: “I am delighted that Susan will be supporting East Kent in this role. Her leadership experience of a career across the NHS, combined with extensive knowledge of local healthcare needs, will help the Trust build on the improvements it has already made and will provide stable leadership while the trust works to recruit a permanent chief executive.”

This article was updated at 12pm following an official announcement by East Kent.

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