• Steve Hitchins leaves Whittington Health Trust after five years
  • HSJ understands NHSI told him he would not be reappointed
  • NHSI to lead appointment of new chair

A trust chair has stepped down three months before the end of his term.

Steve Hitchins told the board of Whittington Health Trust in north London yesterday that he would be stepping down immediately after five years in the post.

HSJ understands he left having been told by NHS Improvement he would not be reappointed for another term.

The Whittington’s board came in for significant criticism in a report it commissioned into bullying and harassment, which said the organisation was “mired in a grievance culture”.

The report praised the accessibility and visibility of Mr Hitchins and former chief executive Simon Pleydell, who left in 2017, but it added that aggrieved staff often went straight to them, complicating the proper functioning of grievance or disciplinary processes.

NHS Improvement will lead the appointment of a new chair.

The trust’s chief executive Siobhan Harrington said in a statement: “As chair, Steve worked tirelessly to ensure that Whittington Health provides the best possible services to our patients and the whole community. He has given over five years of dedicated and conscientious service so on behalf of the board and all of my colleagues from across the organisation I would like to thank him.

”Steve is a passionate advocate for Whittington Health, its staff and the integrated care services we manage both in the community and hospital, we would not be in the strong and confident position we are today had it not been for his efforts and hard work. I wish him all the very best for the future.”

NHS Improvement London has been approached for comment.

An NHS Improvement London spokeswoman said the ”trust have put out a statement that we would see as the more local and appropriate NHS voice for your readers on this matter. On that basis, we are not commenting any further.”


*Story updated at 16.04 on June 28th to include response from NHS England and Improvment London.

A spokeswoman said: ”Steve Hitchins’ term as chair of the Whittington Health Trust was coming to end in September. We were considering the options in line with due process but hadn’t concluded that when Steve made his announcement at the board meeting on Wednesday.

”We would like to thank Steve for his years of public service and dedication to the NHS. He has been a passionate advocate for the Whittington and its staff and we wish him every success in the future.”