WORKFORCE: The Essex trust has appointed Clare Panniker, chief executive of North Middlesex University Hospital Trust, as the replacement for Alan Whittle.

Mr Whittle announced he was stepping down in January after leading the trust for nine years, through part of which it came under attack for high mortality rates, poor standards of care and a series of deaths related to Legionnaire’s Disease.

Ms Panniker has led North Middlesex for eight-and-a-half years.

In a letter to staff, North Middlesex chair David Hooper said: “I expect this will come as a surprise, and maybe even a shock to you. Clare has been chief executive here for eight-and-a-half years, and under her leadership there has been a transformation from a financially-struggling, poorly performing trust to one that is improving year-on-year and is performing strongly on quality and finance.

“Clare has decided that it is the right time for her to move to the next stage of her career which will be to manage a long-standing foundation trust. I am sure we will all wish her the very best in this new venture.”

He added she would not be leaving until “late summer or early autumn”.