• Steve Phoenix to join East Sussex Healthcare Trust in February
  • Mr Phoenix has also been a special advisor in Qatar
  • Current trust chair David Clayton-Smith to stand down early

A former primary care trust chief executive has been appointed chair of a financially-challenged acute trust.

Steve Phoenix – who has held a number of non-executive roles at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust since 2017– will take over as chair at East Sussex Healthcare Trust next month.

Mr Phoenix was chief executive of West Kent Primary Care Trust from 2006 to 2011 and has worked in healthcare for 37 years. More recently, he was a special advisor to the minister of public health in Qatar and ran hospitals in the Gulf state. 

Mr Phoenix said: “As a local resident I’ve watched closely the journey of improvement the organisation has been on in the last few years. I am looking forward to supporting ESHT to continue this rapid improvement and providing the best possible care to patients.

“I will work with partner organisations to help strengthen the local healthcare system, focussing on proving high quality services that are both clinically and financially sustainable.”

ESHT was taken out of quality special measures in last summer, but remains in financial special measures and had a £57m deficit in 2017-18.

In September, chair David Clayton-Smith announced his intention to stand down before his term was up, while a governance review, published last month, found the trust’s board was sometimes not sufficiently challenging and suggested it needed “refreshing.”

Anne Eden, executive regional director south east, NHS Improvement and NHS England, said: “ESHT has made some real improvements in the quality of care provided to local patients. The task ahead under Steve’s leadership is to tackle the challenging financial position.

”NHS Improvement and NHS England will continue to support a joined up approach to this across the NHS locally in East Sussex. I want to see the quality improvements already achieved are maintained for patients while getting the best value from every pound spent on care.”

Mr Phoenix’s appointment will run until 2023 and he will be paid £40,000 a year for the part-time role.