WORKFORCE: A financially troubled trust in the West Midlands has failed to recruit a new chief executive after failing to find candidates with suitable experience.

George Eliot Hospital Trust has been searching for a chief executive since the departure of the previous incumbent Kevin McGee.

Mr McGee had been at the small district general hospital for three years but left to take up the role of chief executive at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust earlier this month.

George Eliot, which faces significant financial challenges and was in special measures until July, advertised for a replacement for Mr McGee.

However in a statement the trust said it had not been able to find a chief executive because “the first round of applicants proved not to have the specific experience identified as necessary to take the organisation forward.

“Stuart Annan, chairman of the hospital, and the executive team, are very clear that it needs to be the right person to take the hospital forward and have been working closely with the [NHS] Trust Development Authority to do so.”

George Eliot Hospital

George Eliot was unable to find a candidate with the experience ‘necessary to take the organisation forward’

The trust refused to comment on how many applicants were received for the position, how many were interviewed or the next steps in the recruitment process.

Kath Kelly, who previously worked as operations director at George Eliot, was appointed as acting chief executive following Mr McGee’s departure and will continue in this role.

George Eliot’s difficulty finding a new chief executive reflect wider concerns voiced by healthcare leaders about the pool of senior management talent in the NHS.

Four in 10 respondents to a survey by the NHS Leadership Academy said the quality of chief executive talent had dropped, with only 7 per cent of 142 respondents saying the standard of applicants had improved.

The survey of provider chairs, chief executives and HR directors also revealed a reluctance of candidates to step up to senior roles following increased scrutiny of trust leadership in the wake of the Francis report and care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

HSJ revealed today that more than a third of trust boards have one or more executive director posts vacant or filled by interim staff.

George Eliot was put in special measures following NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of trusts with unusually high mortality rates, but exited the regime after it was reinspected by the Care Quality Commission and rated “good”.

It is forecasting a £12m deficit this year.