HSJ’s round-up of Tuesday’s must read stories

New CEO drops out

Angela Pedder was always going to be a tough act to follow at the Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust.

She was chief executive of the South West acute for 19 years before leaving to lead the northern, eastern and western Devon success regime this summer.

Unfortunately, her planned replacement as permanent chief executive didn’t manage a single day in the role.

Julie Hartley-Jones, who works in the Australian healthcare system, was announced as CEO elect in July and was due to start at the trust in January.

However, yesterday the trust said that “owing to changed circumstances” she was now “not in a position to return to the UK” and “will instead continue to pursue her career in Australia”.

The announcement follows a local media storm surrounding the appointment, after it emerged that the hospital that Ms Hartley-Jones used to run in Cairns is forecasting an $80m deficit. According to The Cairns Post, Ms Hartley-Jones departure from that organisation was “facilitated” by the hospital board in May.

Unsurprisingly, questions are being asked about the RD&E board’s due diligence process. Did they know about the Cairns deficit and the terms of Ms Hartley-Jones departure from the hospital? If not, then why not? And If they did, did they receive sufficient assurances to still make the appointment?

It’s now back to square one for the trust in terms of appointing a chief executive. But it is hardly the first organisation to struggling with succession management following the departure of a long serving and successful leader: just ask Manchester United.

Trust merger cancelled

In another tale of abandoned plans, the proposed merger of two acute foundation trusts has been called off.

The intention to merge the Royal Surrey County and Ashford and St Peter’s foundation trusts was first announced in May 2014, and would have created a provider with an annual turnover of around £600m.

The plans were “paused” in March to address the Royal Surrey’s deteriorating finances. The trust finished 2015-16 with a £10.2m deficit, and its quarter one forecast for 2016-17 was for a deficit of £7.9m.

The Royal Surrey has now announced that the merger will not go ahead, after it decided merging did not offer the best chance of stabilising either finances or services.