The NHS Trust Development Authority last week announced the appointment of an acting chair at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust.

Penny Owston took up the role last week following the retirement of former chairman Paul Richardson.

Mrs Owston has been a non-executive director with the trust since April 2010. She is also a practising solicitor-advocate specialising in children’s law.

Mr Richardson leaves the trust after four years as chair.

David Bowles, his immediate predecessor, was suspended in 2009 and alleged that the trust had come under pressure to hit targets despite safety concerns.

Both Mr Bowles and the trust’s then chief executive Gary Walker asked NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson to intervene. An inquiry into claims of bullying at the trust was conducted and cleared the East Midlands Strategic Health Authority of wrongdoing.

In 2010 a non-executive member of the trust’s board resigned, unhappy with the way in which Mr Richardson was handling the case.

Since then the trust has had several critical reports and warning notices issued to it by the Care Quality Commission following.

Mrs Owston’s term as acting chair will last six months. She will be entitled to a salary of £23,600 per year.