• Group chief executive of hospital chain replaced as accountable officer at member trust
  • Sir David Sloman replaced at North Middlesex University Hospital Trust by NMUH chief executive Maria Kane after eight months
  • Maria Kane now employed directly by trust rather than by the Royal Free Group

The chief executive of a “vanguard” hospital group has been replaced as accountable officer at one of its member trusts.

Sir David Sloman, who is group chief executive of the Royal Free London group in north London, was replaced as accountable officer at North Middlesex Unviersity Hospital Trust in May, board papers reveal. North Middlesex is part of the Royal Free London group.

Maria Kane was appointed as chief executive at NMUH in December, but the press release making this announcement said Sir David would continue as accountable officer for the trust.

Sir David’s replacement as NMUH accountable officer by Ms Kane was made by NHS Improvement and a report to the June meeting of NMUH’s board from chair Dusty Amroliwala said: “On 18 May 2018, following discussions with the trust and other stakeholders, NHS Improvement announced the appointment of Maria Kane as the successor to Sir David Sloman as the accountable officer for NMUH. Maria has since moved from being under contract with the Royal Free Group to being under the direct employment of NMUH from 1 June 2018.”

Sir David was made accountable officer for NMUH in September, at the same time that it was announced the smaller trust would be joining the Royal Free London group as its first clinical partner.

A director from the Royal Free, Libby McManus, had been chief executive at NMUH before being forced to step down in September last year after the trust’s poor accident and emergency performance. She returned to the Royal Free as group services director.

A press release announcing the partnership in September said the trust would continue to have its own separate board, adding that a hospital chief executive – similar to the roles at Barnet Hospital, the Royal Free Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital – would be advertised. The Royal Free Hampstead Foundation Trust formally acquired Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals Trust in July 2014, NMUH is still a separate statutory body.

North Middlesex would not confirm why Ms Kane had taken over the accountable officer role, five months after taking up the chief executive role.

An NHS Improvement spokeswoman said: “It is normal practice for the chief executive of a NHS trust or an NHS foundation trust to also be the accountable officer for that organisation. Following Maria Kane’s appointment into the substantive chief executive role for North Middlesex University Hospital, NHS Improvement took steps to align the chief executive and accountable officer roles.”

The Royal Free London group is one of four hospital group vanguards in England. The others are run by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust, Salford Royal Foundation Trust and Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust, and have varying management structures.

Salford Royal’s chief executive, Sir David Dalton, is accountable officer for both trusts in the Northern Care Alliance group, the other being Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust.

NMUH chair Dusty Amroliwala said: “This partnership is the culmination of nearly two years of close working between the Royal Free London and North Middlesex. Doctors and nurses from across the two trusts have been sharing their expertise to help transform the standards of care that our patients and local communities will receive in the months and years ahead.”

Royal Free London FT has had significant financial difficulties and finished 2017-18 with an underlying deficit of almost £100m.