WORKFORCE: Another NHS England leader in the South region has left to run an acute trust, it has been announced.

Wessex Area Team director Debbie Fleming will take over at Poole Hospital Foundation Trust next April.

In 2012 Ann James stood down as area team director for Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly to lead Plymouth Hospitals Trust while the regional director Andrea Young left last year to run North Bristol Trust.

Poole is facing a challenging future after its plans to merge with neighbouring Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Foundation Trust were blocked by the Competition Commission last year.

The trust had argued it would become financially unviable without the efficiencies the merger would bring and it is currently under investigation by Monitor after forecasting a deficit for 2014-15.

Trust chair Angela Schofield said: “Debbie is an extremely experienced and capable person with all the attributes required to steer this trust through the challenges ahead.”

Ms Fleming will replace Chris Bown who joined the trust in 2010.

If the merger had gone ahead as planned his post would have become redundant. The trust is also recruiting a director of nursing, director of finance and a permanent chief operating officer.

Ms Fleming, who started her NHS management career at Poole Hospital in the 1980s, said: “I am pleased and proud to be returning to the trust as the new chief executive officer.

“Like many organisations, the trust is currently facing a number of very significant challenges.

“However, I am looking forward to working with staff, clinicians, and all local stakeholders to develop and implement a new strategy that will take us through these difficult times.”