• East of England ambulance trust set to appoint interim chief
  • Appointment still requires NHSI approval, HSJ understands
  • It follows the resignation of Robert Morton last month

East of England Ambulance Service Trust has lined up an interim chief executive following the resignation of Robert Morton last month, HSJ understands.

The embattled trust has put forward management consultant Dorothy Hosein to take up the challenging role on a temporary basis. The appointment still requires sign off from NHS Improvement, senior sources told HSJ.

The trust is keen to secure a new leader as it bids to address some of the worst ambulance response times in England.

The trust has already raised concerns about how it will cope this winter following significant ambulance delays last year, and recently floated plans for using volunteer ambulance drivers and drafting in the military to cover staff shortages.

Ms Hosein has held senior management roles in the NHS acute sector across the East of England since 2010 but she has not worked in the ambulance sector.

Her most recent role was an eight month stint as interim managing director at Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust. She was chief executive of Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn Foundation Trust for nearly three years between 2014 and 2017.

One senior central source told HSJ the trust’s desire to appoint a chief with no ambulance experience laid bare the shortage of leaders within the ambulance sector.

The move follows Mr Morton announcing his resignation last month, citing personal reasons after around three years in charge. Deputy chief executive Lindsey Stafford-Scott has been covering the role since his departure.

Mr Morton’s tenure included a significantly challenging period, which resulted in a risk summit after whistleblower allegations about patient harm caused by ambulance delays and cultural concerns.

Trust chair Sarah Boulton, however, said Mr Morton had the board’s unequivocal backing. He left a “great” legacy and his departure had “saddened” her, she said last month.

Verdicts on Mr Morton’s tenure from outside the trust were also split. A review by Deloitte concluded in July there was “cohesive leadership” with a “clear vision” under his charge.

The Care Quality Commission, however, raised concerns about how well led the trust was and had given it a requires improvement rating just weeks before the Deloitte review was released.

The trust and NHSI both declined to make a substantive comment on the appointment of Ms Hosein.

The trust said it was in a “process of selecting an interim chief executive… with stakeholders” and it would confirm the move “in due course”.