• Medical and finance chiefs step down from board which oversees three Essex trusts
  • Three hospital trusts pushing for April 2020 merger
  • Trusts to be rebranded “Mid and South Essex University Hospitals Group”

Two members of the board overseeing the merger of three are stepping down from their leadership positions.

Chief medical director Celia Skinner will retire this month and step down from the group leadership team which oversees three mid and south Essex hospital trusts. Finance director James O’Sullivan will step down in September. Both will retain roles within the organisation but not as executive directors.

Dr Skinner will be replaced by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust medical director David Walker. East Suffolk and North Essex FT’s finance chief Dawn Scrafield will take over from Mr O’Sullivan. Both will start their new roles in the autumn.

The departures were made public at the group’s June board meeting. It was also announced the group would be branded the ”Mid and South Essex University Hospitals Group”.

The group comprises three trusts: Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals FT, Southend University Hospital FT and Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust, which have combined revenues of around £850m.

They originally planned to merge this April but the move was recently pushed back to 2020.

The delay was partly caused by their clinical reorganisation, which has sparked some controversy, being referred to the health and social care secretary by local councils.

A board paper by group chief executive Clare Panniker said the three trusts would remain separate statutory bodies. 

Ms Panniker said: “Over the past seven years [Dr Skinner] has led a number of initiatives that have strengthened and developed the medical workforce at BTUH and latterly across the group.

“Celia has been providing executive leadership to the clinical transformation programme since 2017. We are delighted that she will be returning to the trust on a part-time basis later this year to support the next phase of clinical reconfiguration.

“We also say thank you to James O’Sullivan, who has been chief financial officer for the group since early 2017 and was previously director of finance at Southend Hospital. James is moving to a new senior finance role within the group where we will continue to benefit from his financial expertise and understanding of the local health system.”

UPDATED: This story was updated on 2 July at 9:20 to reflect Dr Skinner is retiring from her role.