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29.01.19

‘Outstanding’ trust chair appointed to special measures trust

England’s worst performing mental health trust has appointed a new chair to help run the Norfolk and Suffolk FT (NSFT) out of special measures.

Marie Gabriel CBE will take over as chair at NSFT, replacing the acting chair Tim Newcomb, and will continue in her role as chair of the East London NHS FT (ELFT) which was rated ‘outstanding’ by the CQC.

This is in sharp contrast to the trust she joins which has received three separate ‘inadequate’ ratings and, at its most recent inspection, was judged to have repeatedly failed to protect patients – in some cases with patients self-harming and overdosing whilst waiting to be seen.

Gabriel’s appointment follows the resignation of Gary Page, who announced he was stepping down early and with immediate effect from the special measures trust weeks before its next CQC report.

NSFT said that the announcement is part of a broadened package of support, experience, and expertise coming from ELFT, with the two trusts ‘buddying up’ ever since the mental health trust was placed into special measures for the second time in 2017.

Kathy McLean, the executive medical director and chief operating officer at NHS Improvement (NHSI), said: “As chair of ELFT, Marie leads one of the country’s top mental health trusts. Her expertise and leadership will be invaluable in her new role as NSFT works to make the sustainable changes needed to improve services for patients and service users.”

Gabriel has been the chair of the ‘outstanding’ East London trust since October 2012 and has more than 20 years of experience in senior roles within local government and the voluntary sector.

She said it was a “huge honour” to be joining NSFT and to be able to strengthen the support provided by ELFT.

“I truly look forward to working with staff, service users, carers, partners and Board colleagues on our journey out of special measures, building on what the trust does well and drawing on ELFT’s successful improvement experience,” she added.

NHSI will continue to work with both trusts to ensure an enhanced support arrangement is still effective.

Antek Lejk, chief executive at NSFT, said: “We are delighted to welcome Marie to NSFT. She brings with her a wealth of experience after spending more than six years at the helm of a mental health trust which is rated ‘outstanding’, and we look forward to drawing on her knowledge and expertise as we continue to drive through improvements locally.”

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