• Christopher Langley’s appointment comes after the East Sussex area reported a combined deficit of £95m in 2017-18
  • Hastings and Rother CCG and Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG placed under legal directions by NHS England
  • Mr Langley earned £14,000 a month as an interim trust chair in 2014

An off-payroll turnaround director has been appointed to one of the most financially challenged health economies, as two of its clinical commissioning groups were placed under legal directions by NHS England.

Christopher Langley’s appointment comes after the East Sussex area reported a combined deficit of £95m in 2017-18.

Mr Langley has been working as financial improvement director at East Sussex Healthcare Trust since February, and has been appointed to the broader remit by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

The national bodies claimed his pay package was “commercially confidential”, but said he would not receive any additional payment for the new role.

Mr Langley was interim chair at Medway Foundation Trust for six months in 2014 under an agreement which saw a company he owned paid £14,400 a month, including VAT, plus an extra 10 per cent to cover expenses.

He had previously been interim chair at the Rotherham FT for seven months in 2013-14 and provided handover support to his successor, at a cost of £115,000 in total.

He is also a former managing director of retailer Dixons and chief executive of camera shop Jessops, and has been a non executive for other NHS trusts.

He will spend around three days a week in his new role.

Hastings and Rother CCG and Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG, which have both been placed under legal directions, reported a combined deficit of £37m in 2017-18. They have been given a “non-negotiable” deficit plan of £32m by NHS England for 2018-19.

They will now have to develop a financial recovery plan and review their capacity and capability.

East Sussex Healthcare Trust was recently taken out of quality special measures but remains in financial special measures. It had a deficit of £57m in 2017-18.

Anne Eden, the joint regional director for NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “I have asked that a single approach to regulatory oversight is put in place to support and assure delivery of local plans to drive the necessary improvements in finance, quality and operational performance.”

The CCGs, which share several senior officers, said in a statement: “Our staff and East Sussex Better Together partners have worked incredibly hard to make significant quality and safety improvements for local people. Now we need to pay the same rigorous attention to detail in managing the money, and we welcome the additional support directions will help us to achieve this.”