• Derbyshire Healthcare FT will not appoint a permanent chief executive or chair
  • Talks underway with Derbyshire Community Health Services on closer working
  • Changes follow sexual harassment scandal at Derbyshire Healthcare that led to senior resignations

STRUCTURE: Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust has put on hold a decision to appoint a permanent chief executive amid the possibility it could merge or be taken over by Derbyshire Community Health Services FT.

An internal email to staff earlier this month, seen by HSJ, said the board and governors at both organisations had agreed to start talks focused on “closer working between the two trusts”.

Derbyshire Healthcare chief executive Steve Trenchard resigned earlier this year after being suspended for seven months following his involvement in covering up the sexual harassment of the trust’s former HR director, Helen Marks, by former chair Alan Baines.

The email to staff by interim chair Richard Gregory and acting chief executive Ifti Majid on 12 July said a decision had been taken to put on hold a decision to appoint a permanent chief executive. It told HSJ this decision would be kept under review.

Mr Majid was deputy chief executive at the time of Ms Marks’ suspension in 2013. Ms Marks was later awarded £832,711 by an employment tribunal, which ruled she had been unfairly dismissed.

The trust was inspected by the Care Quality Commission in June but the report has not yet been published.

HSJ has also learned Jayne Storey, the trust’s workforce director, will be leaving the trust next month after being appointed in January 2016. In February this year the trust’s governance and HR functions were criticised following a targeted inspection by the CQC as a direct result of the treatment of Ms Marks.

This would be the second major collaboration between a community trust and a mental health provider. Last month Tracy Taylor, chief executive of Birmingham Community Healthcare FT, was appointed as joint chief executive of Black Country Partnership FT ahead of a possible merger of those two organisations.

In their email, Mr Gregory and Mr Majid said: “As you will be aware, the sustainability and transformation plan for Derbyshire outlines a county-wide approach to how the local health and care system will manage its key challenges over the next five years.

“This work has brought together all local NHS providers, commissioners, local authorities and the voluntary sector, so we can develop a comprehensive and joined up plan for the future.”

They said the work was focused on tackling poor health, improving quality of care and closing the region’s financial gap.

They added: “At our respective council of governors’ meetings today, both Derbyshire Healthcare FT and Derbyshire Community Health Services FT discussed initial ideas about how closer working between the two trusts could have a positive impact and support the health and care system to meet these challenges.

“There are a variety of options to define the level of collaboration and we are at the very early stages of considering these. Both boards have agreed to work in partnership to develop a ‘strategic options case’ which considers the pros and cons of each option. It is anticipated that this work will then be presented to both boards towards the end of the calendar year for consideration.

“Being mindful of these conversations, the trust’s nomination and remuneration committee has confirmed that we will not, at present, progress with the appointment of a substantive chief executive or chair.

“This is an interim position that will be reviewed on a regular basis, in order to best reflect the needs of the organisation.”