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Former nurse and Mid Staffs troubleshooter agrees to lead troubled island trust

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The Isle of Wight NHS Trust has appointed former nurse and troubleshooter Maggie Oldham as its interim chief executive, following the departure of her predecessor last month.

On joining the trust next month, she has pledged to work towards recruiting staff to vacant posts and addressing “outdated and bureaucratic” practices at the trust, which recently received heavy criticism from regulators.

“The trust has many dedicated and caring members of staff”

Maggie Oldham

Karen Baker, also a former nurse and midwife, stood down from her role as chief executive of the integrated healthcare provider on 31 March, ahead of the expected criticism from regulators.

Around 10 days later, the trust was rated “inadequate” overall by the Care Quality Commission and placed in “special measures” by NHS Improvement.

Inspectors identified concerns about the quality and safety of services, low staff morale and an “out of touch” leadership team preventing staff from providing good services.

In addition, inspectors described a culture of “subtle bullying” throughout the trust, with staff “working in old fashioned ways and holding up barriers to change”. 

Ms Oldham, who trained as a nurse in the 1980s and holds a BSc Hons in Nursing, will take up her interim role on the island on Tuesday 2 May 2017.

She is seen as particularly experienced at supporting NHS trusts that face significant challenges, and is credited with helping improve Stafford Hospital in the wake of the care scandal there.

Ms Oldham said: “I know the trust has many dedicated and caring members of staff and that it delivers some good services.

“However, it is also clear from the recent CQC report that much needs to be done to improve the quality of care, improve performance against key targets, recruit staff to vacant posts and address outdated and bureaucratic practices,” she said.

She said she would be working closely with other trust board members “to develop a robust and achievable plan for major and rapid improvement”.

Trust chair Eve Richardson said: “I am very pleased we have been able to recruit somebody with Maggie Oldham’s experience to the post of interim chief executive.

Isle of Wight NHS Trust

Struggling trust turns to former nurse to help turn it round

Maggie Oldham

“We will, of course, be recruiting a permanent chief executive as soon as possible but, until that process is completed, I am confident that Maggie will be able to deliver the leadership and vision the trust needs,” she said.

Ms Oldham joined the leadership team at the former Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust in 2010, after the care failures of 2007-09 came to light that were subsequently described in the Francis report.

She then became chief executive of the West Midlands trust in 2013, and is credited with making significant improvements and helping oversee its subsequent merger with a neighbouring trust.

More recently, she has been working as an improvement director with the NHS Trust Development Authority, one the regulatory bodies that were merged to create NHS Improvement in April 2016.

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