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A long-serving trust chief executive who retired just five months ago has returned to chair a trust which a review found had “deep-seated” cultural problems.

John Lawlor, who led Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Foundation Trust for seven years, stepped down in January as he closed the chapter on an NHS career that spanned nearly four decades.

Now he has returned to take over from Paul Burstow at Tavistock and Portman FT down in London, whose second and final term as chair is coming to an end.

The last 12 months have proved tumultuous for Tavistock and Portman, as the Care Quality Commission rated its specialist gender identity development service “inadequate,” while a high-profile employment tribunal case has generated significant media scrutiny.

An externally commissioned review of its leadership praised the trust’s board for being “cohesive” and having a “consistent focus on the delivery of high-quality care and the provision of education and training”.

However, it identified “deep-seated” cultural issues, among which was a reluctance from staff to speak up about concerns in the wake of that employment tribunal.

The review also questioned whether the trust’s non-executive directors were providing enough “challenge and effective scrutiny” of the executive board.

Meanwhile, in Nottinghamshire…

The chief executive of a county council has been appointed to lead an NHS trust.

Nottingham University Hospitals Trust announced on Wednesday that Anthony May will take over as chief executive from the autumn, after leading Nottinghamshire County Council since 2015 and holding senior positions for a number of years.

The trust has been without a substantive leader since October, when Tracy Taylor announced her formal departure after months off sick with covid.

Mr May will take the reins during a particularly troubled time for the acute trust, as it is embroiled in a maternity scandal with an independent review into the care given to hundreds of families expected at the end of this year – perhaps just a month or so after he is expected to join.

In comments made following his appointment he has been clear he wants to focus on maternity improvements, as well as improving flow and trust leadership – both major challenges currently facing this organisation.

Update: An earlier version of this article said Mr May was thought to be the first council CEO to become a trust CEO. It has since been pointed out that Owen Williams, former Calderdale and Huddersfield Trust CEO and now Northern Care Alliance chief, was also Calderdale Council CEO. 

Also on today

In Recovery Watch, James Illman examines the trusts with the most to do on eliminating two-year waiters, a key metric, and in comment, Ruth Thorlby finds mixed findings for the UK in an international survey of health and care.