Health campaigners question whether Northamptonshire health trust boss can take on a second job

The chief executive of Northamptonshire Community Health Foundation Angela Hilery has been appointed as the boss of a second trust in neighbouring Leicestershire on a part-time basis.
The chief executive of Northamptonshire Community Health Foundation Angela Hilery has been appointed as the boss of a second trust in neighbouring Leicestershire on a part-time basis.

Health campaigners have questioned the decision to appoint a part-time chief executive to a failing Leicestershire health trust.

Angela Hillery has been hired to replace retiring chief of Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Dr Peter Miller, and faces the challenging task of overturning a recent CQC report which highlighted multiple failings within the trust.

But Ms Hillery will stay in post at Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust - a trust rated outstanding by the CQC - while carrying out the role.

Health campaigners have questioned the move saying it is unrealistic to expect the required level of change while maintaining standards across the border in Northamptonshire.

Patient Panel member Kathy Reynolds said the panel were pleased that an early appointment had been made and recognised that Ms Hillery brings with her experience.

She went on to say: “We cannot ignore several concerns that this appointment has raised.

"Chief among these is the part-time nature of the appointment.

"Leicestershire Partnership Trust has failed to maintain the standards we expect in our NHS providers and we are surprised that Ms Hillery is being expected to turn the organisation around whilst, at the same time, maintaining performance at another complex organisation.

“The skills one uses to maintain a high performing organisation are very different to those required to turn around a failing organisation.

“I’m not saying one person cannot encompass both skill sets but to ask a person to use both equally every day is asking a lot.

“In addition, both are largely community-based trusts in two large counties so being a presence across the organisations will require a huge effort.

"The work needed to improve LPT’s performance is substantial, as members of the joint health scrutiny committee for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland pointed out a few weeks ago, and we are surprised the LPT Board considers this challenging role a part-time one.”

Earlier this year the trust, which provides mental health and community health services across the city, county and Rutland, was rated "requires improvement".

Inspectors were critical of the trust’s leadership and marked it as "inadequate" in the well-led category.

After the report, NHS Improvement provided a package of support including pairing it with NHFT.

LPT said that Ms Hillery’s appointment is an extension of this "buddy relationship".

In response to the criticisms, Cathy Ellis, chairman of LPT, said: “I am very pleased that Angela Hillery and NHFT have agreed to a shared chief executive role.

"I believe that Angela’s expertise and leadership, brings a timely and high quality response to the chief executive vacancy which will focus on the turnaround and recovery of LPT.

“Following our recent CQC inspection, it was identified that LPT would particularly benefit from strengthening our leadership and governance arrangements.

"Angela comes with an impressive track record and this appointment is a positive step in our improvement journey, alongside our buddy relationship to share good practice with Northamptonshire Foundation NHS Trust.

"The CQC, as our regulator, are supportive of our decision.”

She added: “Angela is fully focused on achieving the best balance for both trusts and she will manage her time accordingly.

"I genuinely believe it’s the right thing for us to do and it provides opportunities for both Trusts to learn and develop.”

Ms Ellis said that sharing a chief executive was not a "precursor" to the two trusts merging.