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2020-21 will go down in history as the year of covid-19, but in the county least affected by the pandemic the year will also be remembered for other crises.

To add to the list of governance failures at Cornwall’s NHS providers, we can now add the spending of millions of pounds on consultants for a project that delivered “no tangible savings”.

The culprit for this seemingly disastrous use of taxpayers’ funds was Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust, whose attempts to lead an ICS-wide health transformation project for elderly patients appear to have fallen well short.

According to CPFT’s external auditors, the trust spent £7m on consultants Newton Europe for help on a project called Embrace Care.

The programme was understandably impacted by the pandemic, but subsequently never implemented in the way planned – leaving the Cornish people with little to show for the £7m invested.

Auditors Deloitte described the project as not providing value for money, and said its failure had caused “considerable disquiet” within the trust’s board.

In the last 12 months, CPFT has apologised after paying executive directors inappropriate overtime, seen its CEO resign under a cloud of allegations of financial impropriety and governance failures, and been forced to halt a merger with Cornwall’s acute trust amid regulatory intervention from NHS England.

Here’s hoping 2021-22 is a better year for the trust.

Trust goes Down Under again

With its own set of quality and governance issues in the last 12 months, it’s not been a great year for Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust either.

But the acute provider will be hoping it can turn a new corner after announcing the appointment of returning NHS chief Steve Williamson.

Mr Williamson led South Tyneside FT before heading over to the other side of the globe for a job leading health services in Queensland, Australia, for four years.

His role there involved managing 12 hospitals in a rural area about as large as England, which makes Cornwall look smaller than the proverbial shrimp on the barbie.

RCHT is developing a habit of hiring health chiefs from Australia, having appointed antipodean Kathy Byrne as CEO back in 2016.

However, Ms Byrne only stayed for two and a half years and left nine months after the trust was placed in special measures following an “inadequate” rating from the Care Quality Commission.

Here’s hoping Mr Williamson avoids a similar fate.