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The appointment of former Care Quality Commission boss Sir David Behan to chair King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust could be read in a couple of different ways.

It could be taken as a vote of confidence in the south London behemoth that it has been allowed to have a chair who is not also the chair of Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT.

The last time it had an independent, dedicated chair was 2019 when Ian Smith was brought in.

The trust was then in special measures and the chief executive had departed as a financial black hole to the tune of a £100m deficit opened up. The trust was proud of having moved out of the equivalent of financial special measures in December 2022.

One year and one month on from that and the financial director had gone as another £85m deficit appeared.

The then chair Charles Alexander also announced his departure but stayed on as the chair of Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT.

So, the appointment of a big hitter like Sir David is in one sense a vindication, but could also be taken as “we’re sending someone who will make sure you get on top of the finances” this time. The former CQC boss is understood to have applied for the role last time but NHS England went with the joint appointment.

Unkindest cuts

NHS managers are once again in the crosshairs as the service scrambles to fill a multi-billion-pound black hole.

HSJ has learned that the Northern Care Alliance, which runs four hospitals in Greater Manchester, has launched a redundancy programme to cut around 100 posts, or 14 per cent, from its corporate workforce.

Jobs at risk include quality improvement, patient experience and complaints, and infection prevention and control, according to internal documents.

The trust’s people chief said the proposed changes “do not include clinical roles who work directly with patients and service users”.

The organisation is just one example of hospitals launching redundancy schemes and plans to freeze recruitment for non-clinical staff.

Other trusts that are pausing recruitment or introducing strict vacancy controls include Mid and South Essex; West Hertfordshire Hospitals; Guy’s and St Thomas’; and Oxford University Hospitals.

It comes as the NHS tries to bridge a forecast financial gap of £4.5bn. Trusts have already been instructed to review staffing increases since 2019 amid a push to “consolidate”, against a funding settlement that is effectively flat in real terms. 

Also on today

Adding further thoughts to the appointment of Sir David Behan, Ben Clover in London Eye explains why the announcement was so notable, and we report that a regulator overseeing 340,000 professionals breached a psychologist’s human rights by letting their fitness-to-practise case go on for a decade.