The nurse who was bought in to chair the troubled Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust has announced he will retire in January after three years in the post.
Sir Stephen Moss told Nursing Times the role was the “most difficult” job he has done in his 42 year NHS career but said the time was right for new leadership.
He joined the trust as a non-executive director in February 2009, just before the Healthcare Commission’s report into failings at the trust was published, before becoming chair six months later.
Sir Stephen said the trust had come on “leaps and bounds” in terms of quality of care but accepted there were “challenging financial issues” and a need for “significant service changes” to make the trust sustainable.
This week the public inquiry into the failure of regulators to spot problems at the trust sooner heard the trust had relied on financial support from Monitor and the DH in each of the last three financial years.
Sir Stephen said: “Putting in a new leadership team is the best way of making sure the organisation has the stable leadership it needs.”
Sir Stephen, who was director of nursing for 20 years at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre and chief executive for two years came out of retirement to join Mid Staffs the trust, said he was still “anxious” that some parts of the NHS that “haven’t really learned from what went on“ at Mid Staffs.
He said: “The context when things started going wrong here is very much like the national context now [of a drive towards foundation trust status against a backdrop of financial constraint] and you take your eye of the quality of care ball at your peril.”
Sir Stephen has formed a group with five other nurse leaders who plan to act as a high profile pressure group working with the profession and the wider NHS to find ways to help nursing and the NHS improve patient care.
However, he said his involvement with the group, who plan to go public next month, was not a factor in his decision to step down.
He added: “As a nurse this had been a really humbling experience… Every time you hear [patients’ and relatives’] stories it makes you want to try to do something. I have been full of admiration for the local community for the way they have handled themselves and in particular the determined way they have pushed for answers.”