• Dame Suzi Leather set to chair Devon’s STP
  • She has previously chaired various quangos, including the Charity Commission and Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority
  • STP ended last year with a combined deficit of more than £60m

A high profile regulator and quango chief has been appointed as the new independent chair of a troubled health economy.

Dame Suzi Leather is set to lead Devon’s “sustainability and transformation partnership”. She has previously chaired various non-departmental government bodies, including the Charity Commission and Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. She also chaired the former Exeter and District Community Trust in the late 1990s.

She is expected to start in the role on a part time basis this summer, and will oversee the appointment of a new accountable officer for the STP and its two clinical commissioning groups; Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG; and South Devon and Torbay CCG.

The accountable officer role has been filled on an interim basis since September last year, after previous attempts to recruit substantively were unsuccessful.

The NEW Devon CCG footprint - which does not cover the whole STP - was part of NHS England’s “success regime” for struggling health economies from 2015. The organisations within the wider Devon STP ended 2017-18 with a combined deficit of more than £60m, although the financial position has been improving since last year.

Initially the “success regime” was chaired by Dame Ruth Carnall, the previous NHS London chief executive, then she handed over to Dame Angela Pedder, previously Royal Devon and Exeter chief executive, and the leadership of the “success regime” and STP were brought closer together.

Over the course of her career, Dame Suzi has frequently been described as the “quango queen” by the tabloid press, and in 2010 was named on a list of quango chiefs earning more than £150,000 by the Cabinet Office.

Jennifer Howells, the south west regional director for NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “Suzi has a long and proud history of public service, both in Devon and more widely across the country. Her experience at a senior level will help greatly in her new role, ensuring we tackle some of the big health and care challenges in Devon.”

Dame Suzi said: “When we are ill, vulnerable, or frail, we need care and support. Ensuring that is there now and in the future for people in Devon is vitally important.

“That is why I relish the challenge and opportunity of this new role. I am determined to carry it out to the very best of my ability.”

She was appointed by the STP, with approval from NHS England and NHS Improvement.

Updated on 28 June to clarify previous leadership roles.