• Steve Warburton is incumbent chief executive of Aintree University Hospital Foundation Trust
  • FT is due to merge with Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust

The chief executive for what will be one of the largest NHS trusts in the north of England has been appointed from a shortlist of three interviewees, HSJ has learned.

Steve Warburton, who is the incumbent chief executive of Aintree University Hospital FT, will lead the provider being created through its merger with Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust.

The merger is scheduled to complete in October, with the new provider expected to turnover more than £900m per year. It will be named Liverpool University Hospitals FT.

Mr Warburton had always appeared the frontrunner for the job, with Aidan Kehoe stepping down as chief executive of RLBUHT earlier this year. However, his appointment had looked more in doubt after Aintree’s chair, Neil Goodwin, was not chosen to lead the new trust.

HSJ understands the interview panel included Sue Musson, who will chair the new trust, north west regional director Bill McCarthy and Jim Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare FT.

Ms Musson said: “The opportunities, and challenges, for the new organisation are significant. We will only succeed if we can work with all our staff and our partners across the city region. Steve is well-placed to ensure that we make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve healthcare for everyone.”

The two acute trusts, but particularly RLBUHT, have struggled with performance and finances over the last year. They reported a combined deficit of £85m. Mr Warburton has recently spoken of the need to rebalance the funding flows in the city, saying the acute sector is “carrying all the significant financial and operational risk”.

HSJ understands RLBUHT is set to be downgraded to “requires improvement” by the Care Quality Commission this week. Aintree also has a “requires improvement” rating, although a new inspection report is due out in the coming months.

Mr Warburton has been Aintree’s chief executive in December 2015, having previously been director of finance and deputy chief executive.

Prior to joining Aintree in 2006, he was director of finance and performance and deputy chief executive at South Sefton Primary Care Trust.

He said in a statement: “I joined the NHS in 1989 as a graduate trainee, and 30 years on I’m so proud to have been chosen to lead our fantastic hospitals at this exciting time for Liverpool.

“Liverpool has been a national and international pioneer in many medical and healthcare developments. We will build on that superb history by bringing our adult hospitals together and using our combined strength to improve healthcare for everyone in the city region.”