• Jeremy Hunt’s special adviser joins troubled trust as executive director
  • Chair wants to put the trust “on a secure financial footing”
  • Trust also apppoints new acting chief financial officer

One of Jeremy Hunt’s special advisers has been appointed as an executive director at a struggling London trust.

St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust has appointed James Friend as its director of delivery, efficiency and transformation. It will be the first time the trust has had a director in this post.

The trust has also announced the appointment of Ann Johnson, an experienced finance director, as acting chief financial officer.

Mr Friend has been a special adviser to the health secretary since last year. Previously he has worked as a transformation director at Chelsea and Westminster Foundation Trust and West Middlesex University Trust.

St George’s was put into special measures in November after being rated “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission, was expected to record a deficit of £71m at the end of 2016-17, up from £55m in 2015-16, and has seen the appointment of four chief executives in one year.

It now has a permanent chair and chief executive, however - Gillian Norton and Jacqueline Totterdell respectively. It has started a program of radical efficiencies, including indicating there will be a 10 per cent cut in its pay bill.

Plans to consolidate back office functions and procurement across south west London have been agreed in principle and will be implemented in 2017-18.

Ms Norton, who took over as chair at the start of this month, said: “I am pleased we have been able to bring someone of James’ calibre and experience to St George’s.

“We face significant financial and quality challenges, and James will play a key role in supporting me, and Jacqueline Totterdell, our new chief executive, to put the trust on a secure financial footing, whilst also improving services for patients.”

Mr Friend said: “I am delighted to be joining St George’s, a trust that wonderfully serves the community in which I and my family live. I know that I am joining at a time when we need to make the most of the resources at our disposal, whilst also getting the basics right day in, day out. I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Mr Friend will start at St George’s next week.

Ms Johnson’s past roles include director of financial and corporate performance for NHS England and director of finance at NHS North Central London.

Mr Hunt has two other special advisers, Ed Jones and Paul Harrison.