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Morecambe Bay's director of nursing to take on deputy chief exec role

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University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust has appointed its chief nurse to the role of deputy chief executive, in addition to her current position.

Sue Smith has been credited with helping lead the trust’s improvement in the wake of it being placed in special measures in 2014 and the high profile deaths of mothers and babies at Furness General Hospital.

“Our staff are a force to be reckoned with, and I am really looking forward to supporting… all of you”

Sue Smith

She takes on her extra management responsibility with immediate effect, according to a statement from the trust’s chief executive, Aaron Cummins, released yesterday.

Mr Cummins said the chief nurse “brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the executive team” and has a “strong track record in professional nursing and the drive to improve patient safety and reduce harm”.

Ms Smith said in a statement to the trust that she was “very happy to be your new deputy chief executive”.

“Our staff are a force to be reckoned with, and I am really looking forward to supporting Aaron, the executive team and all of you, as we continue to improve and develop health and care services across Morecambe Bay,” she added.

The deputy chief executive role was previously held by Mr Cummins, who was also director of finance, until he became chief executive in March 2018.

Ms Smith has been chief nurse at the trust since 2013, a period during which the organisation was under intense scrutiny following a number of infant and maternal deaths at Furness General Hospital’s maternity unit between 2004 and 2008. Nursing Times interviewed her on her improvement plans in 2014.

An independent inquiry, which looked at events at the trust from January 2004 to June 2013 and published its findings in 2015, found a “lethal mix” of problems, including substandard clinical competence and poor working relationships between staff groups, could have contributed to the deaths.

Since that time, the organisation has made a number of improvements and was rated “good” by the Care Quality Commission last year, having been taken out of special measures in December 2015.

Earlier this year, it opened a new maternity unit Furness General Hospital, which was at the centre of the scandal.

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