NHS England has appointed a community trust chair as interim leader for the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent sustainability and transformation partnership, following failure to recruit a permanent head since November.

David Pearson, chair of Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership Trust, was appointed as interim chair of the area’s STP on 1 April.

David Pearson

David Pearson cropped

David Pearson took on the role last month

Mr Pearson is set to be interim chair of the STP “for the foreseeable future” after NHS England failed to hire a substantive lead following a recent round of interviews, a source close to the recruitment process told HSJ.

Last November, John MacDonald, chair of University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust, resigned as STP chair before the plan was published the following month.

Mr Macdonald said he was stepping down to focus on the challenges affecting his trust but in March he was appointed as chair at Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust in addition to his role at UHNM.

In April, HSJ revealed that the STP had a gap of £68m between its organisations’ combined overspends and control totals, which was the biggest in the country.

Penny Harris, transformation director for the STP, is currently listed by NHS England as the footprint’s lead, however Ms Harris will be stepping down from her post in two months. NHS England said it is currently looking for her replacement. 

A spokeswoman for NHS England said: “Mr Pearson has over 40 years NHS experience and his substantive role is as chair of Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership Trust. NHS England is continuing to secure a substantive chair and Mr Pearson will continue as interim until that process has concluded.

Mr Pearson told HSJ: “It’s a real privilege to step into this interim role and to work in close collaboration with our partners and key stakeholders to ensure that the future of the health and social care system in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent is sustainable and meets the assessed need of the people living here.”