A trust recovering from serious problems with its accident and emergency services has appointed a new chief operating officer and medical director.

In 2016, North Middlesex University Hospital in north London faced the possibility of having its A&E department closed after concerns about safety and performance against the four hour target. It has since improved substantially but has seen significant use of interim directors.

The trust announced today it had recruited a substantive chief operating officer from another London trust, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust.

Dr Andy Heeps, an obstetrician, was the divisional director for specialist medicine at the east London trust.

Dr Heeps will start his role in December.

HSJ understands NMUH has also recruited NHS Improvement’s London medical director Emma Whicher to be its own medical director.

Dr Whicher has worked at the regulator since February 2017. Before that she was medical director at South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust for five years.

The trust has not had a substantive medical director for a year. Previous substantive medical director Dr Cathy Cale left in Ocotber 2017 after 18 months in post. This was at the same time as the chief executive had to resign under pressure from then health secretary Jeremy Hunt because of the trust’s A&E performance.

North Middlesex recently rejected substantive membership of the Royal Free Group. The trusts will still collaborate on some service lines but North Middlesex will not integrate further with the Hampstead based foundation trust.

Last month, the trust was again rated “requires improvement” by the Care Quality Commission. It reported a £29m deficit in 2017-18, which was £7m worse than planned.