The chief executive of a troubled acute trust has stepped down amid continuing concerns over its financial performance.
Matthew Hopkins is set to leave Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust next week, with Chris Bown appointed as interim chief executive.
HSJ understands that the trust’s chair and non-executives have been discussing Mr Hopkins position for several weeks, due to concerns about the trust’s financial performance. A review of the trust’s financial governance arrangements, commissioned by NHS Improvement and carried out by Deloitte, is due to be published in the coming weeks.
Mr Hopkins has been substantive chief executive since April 2014, but took an extended period of leave between March and September 2017 to undergo a kidney transplant.
Serious cash flow problems emerged shortly after his return from leave, and in November last year a group of consultants wrote to the trust chair saying they had “lost confidence in the approach of the current executive leadership”. The trust was also placed in financial special measures.
A subsequent investigation into the cash flow problems, commissioned by the trust, found there had been serious financial governance failings which had put patients at risk.
Mr Hopkins said in a statement: “Our trust and the local health economy have faced financial challenges for more than a decade and when I returned to work last year after a kidney transplant further serious issues emerged.
“I have agreed with our chair, Joe Fielder, that it is now time for someone else to take the helm and move us out of financial special measures and for me to seek new opportunities.”
Mr Fielder described Mr Hopkins as a “visible, approachable leader who has fostered a culture where people are actively encouraged to speak up”.
He also pointed to the quality improvements which had enabled the trust to be released from quality special measures in March 2017.
He added: “These guiding principles will continue to be an immoveable focus for us as we devote our energies in the coming months to securing a more robust financial position for our trust.”
Mr Hopkins’ departure follows that of interim finance director Ian O’Connor. The trust missed its financial plan by £50m in 2017-18 (ending the year with a deficit of £49m) and was last month rated “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission for its “use of resources”.
It has set a deficit plan of £35m for 2018-19, but its finance report for June said this “has not been approved with the challenge from regulators (NHS Improvement) to improve this expectation in year”.
Trust statement and information provided to HSJ
26 July 2018
and commissioned Deloitte to carry out a review of the trust’s financial governance arrangements.