WORKFORCE: The chief executive of Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust has stepped down with immediate effect after almost three years in post.

Keith McNeil announced today he will leave the trust. The director of finance, Paul James, has also announced his resignation after a year in post.

At the end of July the trust had an in-year deficit of £20.6m, which was £8.4m worse than planned. It attributed much of this to the introduction of the eHospital IT system.

It is understood a Care Quality Commission report on the trust is due to be published next week, following an inspection in April. It is expected to be negative about service quality.

Keith McNeil

Keith McNeil has been in post for almost three years

Monitor said in July it would investigate the FT following concerns that the problematic implementation of an electronic patient record system had hit its finances.

Dr McNeil joined the trust in November 2012. The trust’s director of workforce, David Wherrett, will take up the role of acting chief executive while the trust works with Monitor to recruit an interim chief executive.

Dr McNeil said: “This has been a very difficult decision, but I have decided to step down as chief executive. It is a matter of public record that we face a number of very serious challenges here in Cambridge, including a growing financial deficit, and I feel the time is right to have new leadership in place.

“When I joined in 2012, I spoke about having an unrelenting focus on patient outcomes. Three years on, thanks to the skill, drive and dedication of the teams working here, I am pleased our hospitals continue to provide our patients with outcomes that are not only some of the best in the UK, but in Europe. We continue to be one of the safest hospitals in the UK in which to receive care.

“I am sure that by continuing to collaborate with experts here in Cambridge and across the world, being bold and innovative and focusing on our patients, this trust will continue to play a leading role in healthcare.”

Trust chair Jane Ramsey said: “I have greatly enjoyed working with Keith over the past three years and I would like to thank him for his efforts. He has shown great leadership qualities and has helped the trust to maintain its reputation for high quality care and excellent outcomes for our patients. On behalf of the board, I would like to wish him well in his future career.”

HSJ understands the trust’s consultant committee has recently raised concerns with its board about problems caused by the IT system implementation.

One consultant at the trust told HSJ: “He has been generally well-liked within the hospital and was dealing with a very difficult set of challenges that were not of his own making.”

Updated: This story was updated at 5.11pm to reflect the fact that a CQC report on the organisation is due to be published in the near future, and to include information about medical consultants at the trust.