• Richard Beeken and Paul Roberts both self-isolating
  • Both developed symptoms last week

Two trust chief executives are self-isolating after showing symptoms of covid-19.

Richard Beeken, from Walsall Healthcare Trust, and Paul Roberts, of Gloucestershire Health and Care Foundation Trust, both developed symptoms last week.

Mr Beeken tweeted he was still assisting colleagues with key strategic decisions from home.

Mr Roberts, meanwhile, tweeted to say the trust was in the hands of his deputy, Sandra Betney. He added yesterday he felt he had “turned a corner” and hoped to be back working from home from Tuesday.

“Building in resilience at an early stage has been really important,” Mr Roberts told HSJ. “We established a rota a while ago which involves two executives on duty seven days a week. One is present on site and is available to our incident room, one by telephone.”

Apart from this, Gloucestershire Health and Care FT’s executives were mainly working from home unless there is a need to be present, he added, with the aim of striking the balance between the need for visible leadership and safety.

But he stressed the importance of planning at the “next in line” level of key operational staff as well. “Their resilience is really important because they get into the real operational detail,” he said.

Mr Beeken and Mr Roberts, both of whom had symptoms before NHS staff testing was introduced, are thought to be the first NHS trust chief executives affected. 

Public Health England chief executive Duncan Selbie self-isolated last week after showing symptoms of the illness, as did England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty. Health secretary Matt Hancock also went into isolation, having tested positive for covid-19.