A major teaching hospital has recruited a former pharmacist as its new chief executive.

Paula Head will lead University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust from September.

She joins the £821m-turnover trust from Royal Surrey County Hospital FT, where she has worked since the autumn of 2016.

Ms Head replaces Fiona Dalton, who left UHS in March to run Providence Healthcare in Vancouver, Canada.

UHS, which provides acute and tertiary services to up to 3 million people across the south of England and Channel Islands, is rated good by the Care Quality Commission.

Ms Head began her career as a pharmacist and took on her first board role at Kingston Hospital FT.

Her first chief executive job was at Sussex Community FT, before she moved to the Guildford-based Royal Surrey County Hospital FT in September 2016.

She was praised in a recent governance review for having been central to the progress it has made since then. The £367m-income trust is also rated good by the CQC, which includes “outstanding” for responsiveness. 

Ms Head said: “I am delighted to be appointed chief executive of UHS, an organisation I have followed closely over recent years.”

Peter Hollins, chair of UHS, said Ms Head has “widespread experience” of the NHS and the “values and ambition” to take UHS into an “even more exciting future”.

David French, the trust’s interim chief executive, will remain at UHS as chief financial officer.