• Interim chief finance officer leaves after four months
  • Trust says arrangements for an interim cover will be announced in a few days
  • Permanent chief officer will be appointed shortly with interviews scheduled for early April, trust says

The chief finance officer at a major teaching hospital has resigned after just four months in the job.

Margaret Pratt stepped down as interim chief finance officer at St George’s University Hospital Foundation Trust last week, HSJ has learned.

Ms Pratt declined to speak about her departure to HSJ.

A statement from the trust said that arrangements for an interim cover will be announced in the coming days.

“We will be appointing a permanent chief financial officer shortly, with interviews scheduled for early April”, a spokesman said.

The trust has had a challenging year financially, with its deficit expected to hit £71m by the end of the financial year, up from £44m in 2015-16.

A recent estates strategy estimated that St George’s is in urgent need of at least £200m to make the current buildings functional.

The trust has also seen high turnover of senior staff over the past year: in April 2016 chief executive Miles Scott stepped down following regulatory scrutiny of the trust’s sudden financial decline in 2015. Two weeks later acting chief executive Paula Vasco-Knight was suspended over serious financial allegations.

In October, St George’s was rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission and placed in special measures.

Attention has since focused on recruiting a senior management team. In January, Marie-Noelle Orzel was appointed by NHS Improvement to work as director of improvement. Three weeks ago Gillian Norton, previously a non-executive director at the trust was announced as the new permanent chair.

This week the trust is interviewing candidates for the position of permanent chief executive to replace Professor Simon MacKenzie, the current interim. The trust expects to announce the appointment in the coming days.

Ms Pratt joined St George’s as an interim senior financial advisor in March 2016. She took on the role of interim chief finance officer in October 2016, taking over from Nigel Carr.

Before joining the trust Ms Pratt was director of improvement with Monitor.

Ms Pratt also worked as finance advisor at the North West strategic health authority, where she provided finance support as the SHA transitioned to new NHS organisational structures.