• HR consultant Susan Newton to investigate how jobs were “found or facilitated” for former directors at Liverpool Community Health Trust
  • Regulator “arranged” for discredited chief executive to move to another trust, according to documents seen by HSJ
  • NHS Improvement regional teams conducting rapid review of “capacity and risk” within community services

NHS Improvement has commissioned an independent investigation into the way jobs were “found or facilitated” for former directors at the scandal hit Liverpool Community Health Trust.

Last month, a wide ranging review by Bill Kirkup detailed serious care and governance failings at the trust between 2010 and 2014.

Ian dalton

Ian Dalton said the Kirkup report ‘has important lessons’ for NHS Improvement

HSJ has seen documents that suggest the NHS Trust Development Authority, now part of NHSI, “arranged” for the trust’s former chief executive to be moved to another provider without informing its leaders of serious shortcomings at her previous organisation.

In a letter to health ministers, NHSI chair Dido Harding said human resources consultant Susan Newton will aim to “clarify the circumstances under which roles were found or facilitated for individuals identified in the [Kirkup] report as bearing some responsibility for the issues at the trust”.

A report being presented to NHSI’s board meeting today by chief executive Ian Dalton said: “I want to ensure that we are able to distinguish more readily between situations where it may no longer be appropriate for an individual to work within the NHS, and those cases where, with appropriate support and in the right role, an individual can learn, develop and contribute in a valuable way.”

To do this, he said NHSI and other national bodies will develop an “ambitious talent management and professional development offer for the provider sector”.

The report added that NHSI’s regional teams have started reviewing the “level of experience and risk” within the community health sector. This follows findings from Dr Kirkup that regulators and commissioners failed to identify problems at Liverpool, partly because they were distracted by higher profile services such as acute hospitals.

In response to findings that problems at Liverpool stemmed partly from unrealistic cost improvement plans, Mr Dalton said NHSI will “do more to improve the quality of cost improvement plans and to seek assurance from providers that plans are credible and appropriate”.

The trust had planned to deliver average annual CIP savings of 4.4 per cent over five years. Trusts’ control totals in 2017-18 implied average CIPs of 4.3 per cent.

In summarising the background to the Kirkup report, Mr Dalton referred several times to failings by the TDA to identify problems, but he did not refer specifically to the former strategic health authority.

The SHA, which was led by Mr Dalton between October 2011 and September 2012 and subsequently absorbed into the TDA in 2013, was criticised by Dr Kirkup.

Mr Dalton said: “Dr Kirkup’s report has important lessons for our organisation and I take his findings and recommendations very seriously…

“Our actions in response must have lasting impact and give us confidence that we can avoid a similar situation ever occurring again. NHS Improvement already provides robust oversight of NHS providers, but I believe that we must substantially strengthen our work in a number of areas, particularly regarding our role to support senior leaders in the sector.”