The chief operating officer of a community trust has taken up her first chief executive post at a district general hospital.

Louise Ashley will lead Dartford and Gravesham Trust after spending six years at Central London Community Healthcare Trust.

Dartford and Gravesham has an income of around £250m and was rated as “requires improvement” by the Care Quality Commission in March this year.

Dartford chair Peter Coles said Ms Ashley brings an “excellent knowledge of the NHS with extensive experience gained through working in healthcare at all levels”.

Ms Ashley, who was also chief nurse at CLCH, took her first executive director job (director of nursing) at Newham Hospital in 2002, and since then she has held various board-level jobs at acute trusts in London.

She said she was “delighted” to join the trust and praised CLCH CEO Andrew Ridley and the board for being her “inspiration” for becoming a CEO.

Mr Ridley said the NHS “benefits hugely” from clinicians such as Ms Ashley taking more senior leadership appointments.

Neither trust has confirmed when Ms Ashley will start her new job at Dartford and Gravesham Trust.