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18.01.19

Struggling Cornwall trust appoints permanent chief executive to lead it out of special measures

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) has announced that Kate Shields, the current interim chief executive, has been appointed to lead the trust out of special measures.

Shields joined the struggling Cornwall trust to support the executive team in 2017 after it was placed in special measures, and took over as interim chief executive in July 2018.

A former registered nurse and mental health nurse, Shields has held significant leadership roles at University Hospitals Leicester and NHS England, and will now be tasked with turning around a trust which spent 134 days on Opel 4 alert last year.

Kate Shields said: “I am delighted to be confirmed in post and look forward to continuing to support all who work at RCHT to provide the brilliant health service and care the people of Cornwall deserve.”

The Cornwall trust was dubbed ‘inadequate’ by the CQC following inspections in both 2016 and 2017 and even declared a trust-wide ‘black alert’ in 2015 as it was forced to cancel operations due to pressure on its services.

In the most recent CQC inspection at the end of 2018, the troubled trust remained in special measures despite making some improvements after inspectors identified major issues with leadership and the use of resources.

The emergency department at the RCHT was “frequently crowded” and often failed to assess the patients within the 15-minute target, with the chief inspector of hospitals Ted Baker saying more work needed to be done because of the trust’s “challenging history.”

Most recently, a BBC investigation found that the Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS Trust had spent the most time of any NHS trust under the highest level of alert, ‘Opel 4’, which is declared when a hospital is “unable to deliver comprehensive care” and patient safety is at risk.

Chairwoman of the trust, Mairi Mclean, said she was “delighted” with the appointment.

She commented: “The experience Kate has already gained from her time at RCHT, and the positive working relationships that have been established across the health and care system in Cornwall, provides much-needed continuity and the opportunity to build on the progress that has been made with the trust improving its CQC rating.

“We all aspire to providing the best acute and community care we can achieve; and to demonstrating our values by the way we treat everyone.”

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