WORKFORCE: St George’s University Hospital Foundation Trust has appointed the former chief executive of South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust as its interim chief operating officer.

Paula Vasco-Knight previously led South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust. She resigned last year after an employment tribunal ruled that two whistleblowers suffered detriment after raising concerns that Ms Vasco-Knight had not declared an interest when appointing her daughter’s boyfriend to a job at the trust.

Paula Vasco-Knight

Paula Vasco-Knight was formerly NHS England’s national lead for equality and diversity

HSJ previously reported that Ms Vasco-Knight was appealing the outcome of the tribunal.

A spokesman for St George’s said Ms Vasco-Knight is “no longer pursuing any further action in relation to the tribunal for personal reasons”.

The tribunal awarded £230,000 in compensation to one of the whistleblowers, Clare Sardari, which was paid by South Devon Healthcare FT. The other whistleblower, Penny Gates, returned to work at the trust.

St George’s is struggling with finances that have plummeted in recent months. Two months after it was granted foundation trust status it reported a £10m forecast deficit. This has worsened and by the end of August the trust had an in-year deficit of £31.2m and now plans for a £46.2m deficit at the end of the year.

Ms Vasco-Knight was formerly NHS England’s national lead for equality and diversity.

The St George’s spokesman said: “Paula Vasco-Knight is an experienced NHS board director. We have been assured that she has passed the fit and proper persons test, meeting new regulatory standards. She has undergone a rigorous interview process thus enabling her to join the board of St George’s trust on an interim basis.”