The trust which was the subject of the Commission for Health Improvement's most damning report to date has been given extra time to put together an action plan to turn its fortunes around.

Trusts have access to CHI findings well ahead of their public release, and most publish their action plans simultaneously with, or soon after, publication by CHI.

Epsom and St Helier trust - which was branded the UK's worst trust when the report came out on 19 August - was expected to deliver its action plan tomorrow. But now CHI and London regional office have given the trust until mid-September to deliver its response.

Geoff Martin, London convenor of health union Unison, said the trust's failure to deliver a quick response - despite the fact it claimed the failings identified by CHI were 'something that it was aware of ' - provided 'a signal that they haven't got a clue what to do'.

The trust is hoping that the track record of John de Braux, chief executive of West Middlesex University Hospital trust, who takes over a one-year contract heading Epsom and St Helier trust next month, will kickstart the process of turning the organisation around.

Mr de Braux, widely seen as a moderniser, dramatically improved performance at West Middlesex, which just two years ago suffered eight of the longest winter trolley waits in a snapshot survey by the Greater London Association of Community Health Councils.

Staff at Epsom and St Helier also hope Mr de Braux's success in winning investment - West Middlesex signed a contract for£50m funding under the private finance initiative earlier this year - augurs well for his new placement.

London regional office has ruled out any injection of NHS cash to support the ailing trust.

Speaking to HSJ, Mr de Braux conceded that the CHI report had 'caused quite a lot of concern among staff '. He is due to have meetings with local patients' groups to get a sense of their dissatisfaction with the trust, which received 455 formal complaints and paid out£21.6m in damages last year.

Despite the fact the CHI report called for 'action' or 'urgent action' to address failings in a total of 25 areas, Mr de Braux said his first managerial task would be to 'pick up on the good parts of the CHI report and feed them into the rest of the trust'.

'I do not want to start re-inventing the wheel, ' he added.

The Winter Emergency Services Team, the National Patients Access Team, the NHS Modernisation Agency and 'other people from outside the trust' will be involved in delivering improvements. But Mr de Braux could not say how quickly 'other agencies' would be brought in.

He said 'a number of people' had been approached to take on the job before the CHI report was published.

'I was approached by London region and by the chair of the trust and I agreed. I understand a number of people were approached.'

Asked if he thought that other people had rejected the offer because of the extent of criticism by CHI, Mr de Braux said: 'I am sure that wasn't the case. I agreed to the job which was a one-year contract.'

Gail Wannell has been seconded from London region, where she has worked since January on performance management. She will become acting chief executive at the West Middlesex trust.

Before moving to the region, Ms Wannell worked under Mr de Braux at West Middlesex as director of operations.