STRUCTURE: The chief executive being seconded to turn around Heart of England Foundation Trust has said his appointment is an example of the recommendations of the Dalton review into the provider sector being put into practice.

Andrew Foster, the chief executive of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust, is to join Heart of England as interim chief executive in mid February.

He will work there four days a week for a maximum of six months, during which the trust will also receive other support from Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh.

The vacancy was created by Mark Newbold’s resignation in November, which came shortly after Monitor took regulatory action at the troubled West Midlands trust over concerns about waiting times and mortality.


Andrew Foster will work at Heart of England FT four days a week

Mr Foster said his secondment was “in line” with Salford Royal Foundation Trust chief executive Sir David Dalton’s recommendations for new organisational forms in the NHS provider sector.

Speaking to HSJ, Mr Foster said the Dalton review, published last month, discussed both a “wide range of models for different organisations working together” and “how one trust might help another to get out of poor performance”, including by “credentialing” high performing trusts to give support.

“This is where I see it as being highly consistent, because it’s not just that I’m going to go and be interim chief executive; we’re going to take a number of ‘products’… or things that we’ve done at Wigan, and we’re going to do something similar [at Heart of England].”

“There will be other people from Wigan supporting me to try and see if we can get some of those lessons applied across.”

The support from Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh will focus around three projects on staff engagement, quality and internal communications.

However Mr Foster said there would be scope to expand this and for Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh to learn from a “whole load of things Heart of England is really good at”.

He said he had been attracted to the role by this “enlightened” approach of collaboration between the two trusts.

“The classic turnaround is somebody who’s invited to go in and sack everybody and start all over again, which is very definitely not what I’m being asked to do here,” he said.

Following a governance review by Deloitte, Heart of England has implemented a “resilience plan”, which includes identifying high performing providers the trust could learn from.

This is how Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh were approached, but two other trusts were also identified for their expertise in IT and governance respectively.

Mr Foster said he hoped and expected Heart of England to receive support from these two providers as well as from his own trust.