• Former PCT chief executive Mike Potts appointed as independent development director
  • Follows allegations about serious culture and engagement problems
  • CCG’s improvement plan delayed from May to July

A clinical commissioning group has hired a former primary care trust chief executive as its “independent development director”, following claims of cultural problems including bullying.

Sheffield CCG confirmed it had appointed Mike Potts – who was previously a PCT chief in Yorkshire – to oversee its improvement plan, which is intended to address the concerns.

The plan’s publication has been delayed by two months, from May to July, which is linked to Mr Potts’ appointment, the CCG has confirmed.

HSJ revealed in February that Sheffield CCG was facing serious questions over its leadership and culture, amid bullying allegations, whistleblowing complaints and a critical independent investigation.

The external review identified issues of poor behaviour by senior CCG staff, as well as dissatisfaction over the handling of bullying and harassment cases, a lack of a clear strategy and poor relationships between members of the governing body.

Last month, HSJ reported the CCG had appointed its existing director of delivery, Nicki Doherty, to spearhead an improvement plan, a move criticised by senior peer David Blunkett.

The plan will now be presented to the CCG’s public governing body meeting on 4 July, its director of commissioning and deputy accountable officer Brian Hughes told HSJ in a statement.

Mr Hughes said: “After listening to what staff and partners have said (alongside a view from our independent development director, Mike Potts) we have extended the timeframe to develop our improvement plan.”

This would allow the CCG to “fully respond to the issues that have been raised and gives us the opportunity to co-produce the improvement plan with staff”, he said.

An accountable officer paper to the CCG’s May governing body, to be presented by Mr Hughes, said a steering group for the project had been set up, chaired by its lay member Chris Nield and with membership including “representatives from our staff forum”.

Mr Potts, whose appointment is on a part-time basis, was chief of Kirklees PCT, and of a west Yorkshire cluster of PCTs until 2013.

Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East, told HSJ on the face of it the delay was “of concern”, but it depended on the reason.