• CCG’s director of delivery Nicki Doherty will spearhead improvement plan
  • Ms Doherty will work on plan instead of her other duties
  • Accountable officer Maddy Ruff denies claims she is leaving in the summer

Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group has appointed one of its directors to spearhead work on an improvement plan following claims of bullying, poor culture and whistleblowing.

In an email sent to CCG staff from accountable officer Maddy Ruff and seen by HSJ, the CCG said its director of delivery Nicki Doherty will work to “coordinate the development” of an improvement plan for the organisation.

Ms Ruff added: “To help Nicki focus on this important piece of work, she won’t be working on business as usual or attending all of her usual meetings.”

Ms Ruff also attempted to quash rumours she intended to resign and leave the CCG in the summer.

Ms Ruff said the improvement plan would consider NHS England’s 360 review of the CCG, the NHS staff survey, a “communications survey” and information from staff drop-in sessions.

“Ms Doherty will use all this information to pull together a draft plan,” Ms Ruff said. “An early draft of the plan will be presented to [the] governing body at the development session in April.”

She confirmed the final plan would go to the governing body and be accessible to the public at the beginning of May.

Ms Doherty has worked for the CCG since February 2015 and has previously worked for a number of NHS trusts, including Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust.

HSJ revealed last month that Sheffield CCG was facing serious questions over its leadership and culture, amid bullying allegations, whistleblowing complaints and a critical independent investigation, which the CCG published online after HSJ’s report.

The external review of the CCG identified widespread issues about poor behaviour by senior CCG staff, as well as dissatisfaction over the handling of bullying and harassment cases, a lack of a clear strategy and poor relationships between members of the governing body.

The review warned the situation at the CCG could result in its decline unless action was taken.

Ms Ruff also used the email to deny she would be leaving the CCG in the summer. “I have no plans to resign or retire as our accountable officer and I am committed to Sheffield,” she said.

Sources close to the CCG told HSJ Ms Ruff intended to leave the organisation in the summer following the publication of the improvement plan.

HSJ also reported earlier this month that NHS England was warned about “constant unrelenting bullying” by senior managers at Sheffield CCG more than a year ago, after a letter written by an employee was sent to former chief nurse Jane Cummings.