St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has appointed Avey Bhatia as its new chief nurse.
She will replace the trust’s existing chief nurse Suzanne Banks, who will be stepping down from her current role on 31 January next year after less than six months.
“I am confident Avey’s skills and experience will help us tackle the challenges we face”
Ms Bhatia will join St George’s in February 2017 on a one-year secondment from Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, where she has been chief nurse since 2013.
She is credited with having extensive experience in senior nursing roles, and is also currently the board nurse at East Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group.
Before joining Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, she was deputy chief nurse at South London Healthcare NHS Trust from 2010-13.
In addition, St George’s noted she was “no stranger” to the trust, having previously worked there in a range of senior nursing and managerial positions up to 2010.
New chief nurses seconded by South London hospital
Speaking on the appointment, trust chair Sir David Henshaw said: “I am delighted to welcome Avey back to St George’s, although sorry to see Suzanne leave.
“I am confident Avey’s skills and experience will help us tackle the challenges we face, and I look forward to welcoming her to the trust in February,” he said.
Ms Bhatia said: “I am really excited to be returning to St George’s in the New Year.
“I know how fantastic the nurses and midwives are, and I will do everything I can to support them in their roles, so we can improve the quality of care we provide for patients,” she said.
Last month, the trust was placed in the “special measures” support scheme, after the Care Quality Commission rated it “inadequate”.
It is also currently struggling financially and is being closely monitored by the CQC’s fellow regulator NHS Improvement.
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Ms Banks only joined the trust as chief nurse in September from Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which she is credited with having helped lift out of special measures.
A CQC report on Sherwood Forest stated that Ms Banks had personally visited nursing staff who had resigned, in order to understand why they were leaving the trust.
Nursing staff spoke “extremely highly of the support offered by the chief nurse”, who met with ward sisters weekly and had worked hard to empower the ward sisters, it said.
A spokesman for St George’s said Ms Banks would be returning to Sherwood Forest Hospitals as chief nurse.
“She is leaving St George’s because she wants to be closer to her family during the working week – and this was shared with staff when we announced her decision yesterday,” he said.
Asked by Nursing Times why Ms Bhatia was on secondment, rather than a permanent contract, the spokesman added: “We will be making a permanent appointment later next year to the Chief Nurse role, but Avey will provide important stability in the intervening period.”
A spokeswoman for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust told Nursing Times that Claire O’Brien, its current deputy chief nurse, will take on the interim role of chief nurse from 1 February.