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New chief nurse to join trust at centre of maternity deaths inquiry

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University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust, which has been at the centre of a scandal over poor maternity care, has appointed a new executive chief nurse.

The Cumbrian trust announced today that it had recruited Sue Smith, who is currently director of nursing, patient safety and quality at North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust.

Ms Smith will take over from Mary Moore, who has been acting executive chief nurse at Morecambe Bay since the former incumbent, Jackie Holt, left over the summer under a compromise agreement.

Ms Smith is due to take up the post at the start of December and will be returning to the trust where she began her career as a nursing auxiliary in 1989.

Trust chief executive Jackie Daniel said: “It is a testament to the hard of work of everyone involved with the trust that we have attracted someone of Sue’s calibre to come and join us.

“I know that Sue is absolutely committed to delivering first class care and will provide clear, professional and strong leadership. Sue has operated at board level in a number of very well respected trust’s, with specific responsibility for patient safety and infection prevention.”

Her appointment follows some confusion surrounding the departure of Ms Holt, as revealed in June by Nursing Times.

Morecambe Bay announced that Ms Holt would be going to Warrington and Halton Hospitals Foundation Trust on secondment for 12 months, after signing a compromise agreement.

Under the plan, Morecambe Bay would continue to pay her full salary during the secondment.

But Warrington and Halton told Nursing Times that although it was approached about the secondment it had decided against it.

Ms Holt had been in post at Morecambe Bay for five years. She was the only member of the previous executive team still working at the trust, which has come under scrutiny following a number of infant and maternal deaths at Furness General Hospital’s maternity unit between 2004 and 2008.

An independent inquiry into the events surrounding the deaths is due to begin once an ongoing police investigation has completed.

Speaking on her appointment, Ms Smith said: “I am really excited to be joining the trust at this time in their development. I care about the patient and ensuring that all staff take the time to listen to them.

“Whilst I am a board member, first and foremost I am a nurse, and I am passionate about getting it right first time for everyone who uses our hospitals. One of my priorities will be on ensuring the patient’s needs are the focus of what we all do”.

Alan Foster, chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust, paid tribute to Ms Smith’s work at his organisation.

He said:  “Sue has made a significant contribution to the trust and she will be missed.

“She keeps patients at the forefront of everything she does and her enthusiasm, drive and vision will be a real asset to her new trust.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I think there is a fundamental conflict of interest when a licensed professional works for a hospital administration. I hope and pray that nursing leadership in the NHS will follow her moves carefully as they are put between a rock and a hard place when trying to please two masters so to speak.

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