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It’s hard to imagine being appointed to a job in the NHS these days without having to provide evidence of every qualification mentioned in the application. Checking qualifications has become a routine part of HR processes.

But, according to the BBC, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s incoming chief executive does not have a masters of law qualification. This degree has repeatedly been mentioned in both the trust’s annual report and those of East London Foundation Trust, where Mason Fitzgerald had worked since 2002.

Mr Fitzgerald is still employed by ELFT, having been seconded to Norfolk and Suffolk, where he has been deputy chief executive since late 2019. An independent review has been launched into the concerns around his qualifications. The BBC has spoken to the University of Georgia, which has confirmed he attended its graduate law school programme for two semesters in 1999-2000 but did not graduate.

Norfolk and Suffolk would not confirm whether Mr Fitzgerald was working normally while the investigation continues. He is due to take over the chief executive role in April this year when incumbent Jonathan Warren retires.

No quick fix

The worst of the third covid wave may be behind us, but getting back to normal levels of routine care could still take many months, senior doctors have warned.

The Royal College of Anaesthetists has said it could take until July for most hospitals to be carrying out routine electives at pre-pandemic levels.

And it will take even longer — until autumn — to get beyond that level to tackle the huge backlogs, the college has said.

In the meantime, there are plans to carry out more operations as day cases, while retired doctors could be deployed to help providers with the most severe waiting list problems. 

The RCA called for NHS England and trusts to take account of the exhaustion being felt by anaesthetists — many of whom have served on the front-line of the pandemic response with intensive care colleagues.