Health Minister announces new appointments to Northern Trust for next stage of turnaround

2 May 2013

Health Minister Edwin Poots today announced the appointment of two senior executives to the Northern Health and Social Care Trust to lead on the next stages of turnaround in order to improve performance in critical areas of service delivery.
The appointments were made in light of the emerging findings of the Turnaround and Support Team which was appointed in December last year by the Minister to help the Trust to improve performance. The Team was appointed because of the Minister’s concerns, particularly about the lack of sufficient improvement in Emergency Department waiting times.
Mary Hinds and Paul Cummings will join the Trust on temporary secondment from the Public Health Agency and the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) respectively. Mary Hinds will take up post as Senior Director of Turnaround and she will lead the improvement programme in Antrim and Causeway Hospitals, and the related community services; Paul Cummings will join the Trust as Senior Director of Corporate Management, and will oversee the remaining service Directorates and the corporate management functions.
The Minister said: “These appointments are being made as part of a programme of intensive support that will be provided to the Trust to ensure the necessary turnaround is achieved in the interests of patient care. My overriding concern is to ensure that the Trust can meet the needs of the population it serves, and can provide acceptable experiences for patients, safe, high quality services, and a resolution of the problem of long waiting in the Emergency Department. I remain committed to avoiding long waits at all the Emergency Departments in Northern Ireland. I believe that Mary Hinds and Paul Cummings together have the skills necessary to deliver the changes required at the Trust and I am confident that they will ensure significant improvements are made. I want to reiterate my appreciation to all of the staff of the Northern Trust for the professionalism and continuing dedication in delivering services to their local community.
Mr Poots also announced that the Chief Executive of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, Sean Donaghy, would be stepping aside from his post at the Trust to take up a new post with the Health and Social Care Board as Regional Director of eHealth and External Collaboration. He said that the move, which was based on mutual agreement, was to enhance the strategic leadership in this high priority area and he wished Mr Donaghy well in this important role. The Minister said that he recognised the personal commitment that Sean Donaghy had brought in his time as Chief Executive, and the efforts he had been making to secure improvement, and confirmed his appreciation of Mr Donaghy’s agreement to pass the baton to the new team.
The Minister also announced that steps are now being taken to appoint a new interim medical director to the Trust. Once this appointment is made, Dr Peter Flanagan has agreed to take up the post of Associate Medical Director. Dr Flanagan said it had been his intention to retire next year. Given the current scale of organisational change, Dr Flanagan feels that the appropriate time to take this step is now. He will work to support the new interim Medical Director until a permanent appointment is made.
Mr Poots said he recognised Dr Flanagan’s dedication to his role and thanked him for his commitment to patient care. The changes will take effect on 13 May 2013.
Sean Donaghy said: “I am looking forward to taking on this new challenge. I have agreed to this course of action, and I am confident that the new team will have the support of all in the Trust in seeking to resolve the difficulties it has faced over many years. I believe they will benefit from the work that I and my colleagues in the Trust have been doing in difficult circumstances over my time in the Trust. The staff are rightly proud of the services throughout the Trust, and I want to acknowledge their clear commitment to improving emergency care waiting times for the benefit of patients.”
On behalf of the Turnaround and Support Team, Sue Page said: “We have worked closely with the staff of the Northern Trust over recent months and listened carefully to their views. We hope we have been helpful in identifying the deep seated issues that have affected the Trust for quite some time, and that we can continue to be of help in working towards solutions that will secure high quality and reliable services for the community. We have been greatly impressed by much of what we have seen and we believe that with the appropriate support and teamwork the necessary turnaround will be delivered.”
The board of the Northern Trust agreed to measures at a meeting of its board late this afternoon.

Notes to editors:

  1. Mary Hinds is currently Director of Nursing and Allied Health Professions in the Public Health Agency and has led the Emergency Department Improvement Action Group over the past year.
  2. Paul Cummings is currently Finance Director and Deputy Chief Executive in the Health and Social Care Board.
  3. It is anticipated that the Stage 1 Report of the Turnaround and Support Team will be published in the next few weeks at which time a fuller statement will be made about the Improvement Plan for the Trust.
  4. Media enquiries about this press release should be referred to DHSSPS press office on 028 9052 0575. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699715440 and your call will be returned.
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