• Simon Whitehouse to be director of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent STP
  • Mr Whitehouse was accountable officer for South Cheshire and Vale Royal CCGs
  • Staffordshire STP has struggled to recruit a chair and North Midlands trust faces a £119m deficit this year

A commissioning leader from the North West has been appointed as director for the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent sustainability and transformation partnership, HSJ has learned.

Simon Whitehouse, who was accountable officer at South Cheshire and Vale Royal CCGs, will join the STP team for an 18 month secondment.

An email to stakeholders from Andrew Wilson and Jonathan Griffiths, clinical chairs for the CCGs, said: “The STP chair [David Pearson] in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent has requested that Simon be allowed to join them as quickly as possible and we have agreed to facilitate that. This means that Simon will be leaving to take up the role on an initial 18 month secondment at the end of June.

“As GP chairs, our priority over the coming weeks is to appoint an interim accountable officer to work with both South Cheshire CCG and Vale Royal CCG over the next 18 months to continue to deliver the best possible outcomes for our local communities.”

The CCGs are currently in legal directions from NHS England and have been in a protracted legal dispute with Mid Cheshire Foundation Trust over its contracted activity.

The Staffordshire health economy faces significant financial challenges in 2017-18 with University Hospital of North Midlands Trust alone predicting a year-end deficit of £119m.

The STP committed to closing one of the county’s emergency departments – most likely at County Hospital in Stafford. Burton Hospitals FT in east Staffordshire is planning a merger with Derbyshire Teaching Hospitals FT.

In another complication, Virgin Care has a £280m, seven year prime provider contract for long term conditions and frail elderly services.

Mr Whitehouse told HSJ that as a Staffordshire resident with his family he was looking forward to the challenge and opportunity the county would offer. Mr Whitehouse started his career as a physiotherapy assistant at the Haywood Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent.

He said: “There are a lot of good people in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire who want to deliver the best care they can.

“As a system the reality is that the challenges mean not one organisation can resolve the problems in both Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. It is about how the system can work together with those good people to deliver the plans they have developed.”