• West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust appoints Christine Allen, current CEO of James Paget University Hospitals FT, to top job
  • James Paget appoints deputy as interim chief exec
  • West Herts has very poor financial track record and is forecasting £52m year-end deficit

A financially troubled Hertfordshire trust has appointed its fifth leader in five years.

Christine Allen, current chief executive of James Paget University Hospitals FT, will head up West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust from February 2019. 

Including interm heads, Ms Allen will be the fifth person to hold the post since February 2014.

She takes over from interim chief executive, Helen Brown, who has held the post since June this year after Katie Fisher quit the role after just 24 months in post. 

Ms Fisher joined the trust in July 2016 after six years at director level at the Royal Free London Foundation Trust. Her appointment was seen as a step towards the trust becoming part of the Royal Free chain of hospitals.

Four months after she resigned, the trust announced a clinical partnership with the Royal Free, which will focus on improving service quality, but both made clear the two were not merging.

West Herts has a long history of serious financial problems. It rejected its 2018-19 control total and has forecast a year-end deficit of £52m. It ended the previous financial year £42.6m in deficit.

Until the start of this year, the trust had been in Care Quality Commission special measures for 28 months but it is now rated “requires improvement”.

Ms Allen has headed up James Paget for over five years. The trust said the current deputy chief executive, Anna Hills, will take on the top job for “a 6-12 month period to ensure stable leadership”.

During her five years at James Paget, Ms Allen led the trust towards its first CQC rating of “good”. The trust was rated “good” for a second time earlier this month.

She has also held various board level roles at Northampton General Hospital Trust, including acting chief executive, chief operating officer and director of strategy.

Steve Barnett, chair of West Herts, said: “Finding experienced hospital chief executives is far from easy which makes securing someone of Christine’s calibre an incredible achievement and fantastic news for staff and patients.

“She is going to be a great addition to our well-established leadership team. Christine’s record in leading trusts to achieve improved national ratings speaks for itself.”