The boss of Burton's Queen's Hospital is to retire after more than 40 years with the NHS ahead of a proposed merger with the Royal Derby Hospital, it has been revealed.
Helen Scott-South, 60, has been chief executive of Burton Hospital's NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital and others in the area for just over a year. She has decided to step down after a 42-year career with the NHS, said a spokesman.
The job is to be taken on by the current chief executive of the Royal Derby, Gavin Boyle, who will head up the new proposed trust once the two hospitals are merged.
The merger will see a new NHS trust formed as Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust acquires the Burton Hospitals Trust in the proposed merger.
Mr Boyle, who joined Derby Teaching Hospitals in March 2016, will become chief executive of the new trust. Mrs Scott-South has decided not to throw her hat into the ring for the new top job, it has been revealed.
She said: "I remain chief executive. We've got an awful lot of work to do and I have given full commitment to the board to continue as chief executive of Burton.
"If the decision was that we weren't going to go ahead with the merger, I would continue as long as the public still wanted me to be chief executive.
"I had to make the decision about whether I was going to put myself forward for the chief executive and to be honest, after 42 years at the NHS, I feel that I would have to commit another five years and I really just feel that at my time of life, I don’t think I could make that commitment."
Mrs Scott-South said she believed Gavin Boyle was the ideal candidate to take the combined trusts forward. I wouldn't hand this over if I didn't think Gavin is the right person to take the leadership role.
"I think Gavin is a very good person to take this forward, I think his value base is right, and I have observed him over the past few months and I know he is committed to improving patient care, which is what this is all about.
am not the sort of person who will just hand something off. I am the accountable officer for this organisation and I will remain the accountable officer until I am assured that we have got the go-ahead date from the NHS."
A spokesman said the role had been offered to both Mr Boyle and Mrs Scott-South under merger employment regulations.
John Rivers, the chairman of both trusts, will also continue in the same role should the proposed merger go ahead.
Mr Rivers said: "I am delighted to have been appointed the prospective chairman as we look to deliver outstanding care to the patients we serve in Derbyshire and Staffordshire. We are fully committed to our key principles of retaining a vibrant general hospital in Burton.
"I also want to congratulate Gavin on his prospective appointment, which was roundly endorsed by both trusts. I am confident that he will provide the strong leadership and clear vision which will be needed as we come together in a newly created organisation.
"I especially want to thank Helen for her enormous contribution over a 42-year career and for her tireless work as chief executive of Burton Hospitals where she will continue as chief executive until such a time as a new organisation is created.
"Meanwhile, it is crucial that both our trusts continue to have strong leadership from Gavin and Helen in the months ahead to maintain our performance and to give stability to both Boards whilst going through the process of identifying other prospective executive and non-executive directors for the new Board."
Speaking to the Burton Mail about his appointment, Gavin Boyle was eager to emphasise the move was dependent on the merger between the two trusts going ahead as currently planned.
Mr Boyle said: "I’m absolutely delighted, both me and Helen Scott-South believe in the merger between the two trusts. A lot of work has been done and still needs to be done however.
"This is a partnership of equals, and we’ve emphasised that all along. If all goes well and I am appointed, I will be just as passionate about services in Burton, Tamworth, Lichfield and everywhere under the trusts as I am with Derby.
"It is important to note that Helen will remain in charge until after the merger has gone through, so will still be heavily involved with making sure that Burton’s best interests are at the heart of planning."
"The clinical world is a small world really, so I have known Helen for many years and I consider her a great colleague," He continued.
"She’s done a great job in her time at Burton, and has shown her strength to put patients and services first at all times."
The Burton and Derby hospital trusts merger
Final planning for the proposed merger is still being finalised and should be submitted and reviewed by the end of the year.
Proposals to merge Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are ongoing and a final full business plan is expected by the start of 2018.
Affected hospitals include the Royal Derby Hospital and Queen’s Hospital, in burton, along with a number of community hospitals under the respective trusts umbrellas, including Sir Robert Peel Community Hospital in Tamworth and Samuel Johnson Community Hospital, in Lichfield which belong to the Burton trust.
Earlier this year, in June, it was announced at a Healthwatch meeting that the outline business case for the partnership of the organisations, with a recommendation to merge was approved.
Fears have been raised by many, particularly in Burton that the hospital could lose services, including the accident and emergency department.
Concerns that the A&E department at Queen’s Hospital could be down-graded to an urgent care centre, meaning it would not operate 24-7. The Burton Mail, as well as the town’s MP Andrew Griffiths, joined the fight to keep it open.
At the before mentioned Healthwatch meeting it was confirmed by bosses from both respective trusts, Helen Scott-South from Burton and Gavin Boyle from Derby that the A&E department would not close.
A new trust will be formed, should the current plans go ahead, under a new combined title. The chairman will be John Rivers, the current chairman of both Derby and Burton trusts, and chief executive of Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Gavin Boyle will take up the same role at the new trust.