Colm Donaghy resigns as boss of Belfast health trust

In an interview with BBC Newsline in January, Mr Donaghy said he would not resign

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Colm Donaghy, the chief executive of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, has resigned.

He had been in the post for almost four years.

The Belfast Health Trust has been in the spotlight with its emergency department at the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) coming under extensive pressure.

Mr Donaghy is to become chief executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

He said it was "not a decision I took lightly".

Growing pressure

"Belfast Health and Social Care Trust is a world-class organisation and there is never a good time to go," he said.

"I have enjoyed my time in Belfast immensely and have had the honour to work with some of the most talented and committed people currently working in the health sector."

It has also emerged that the deputy chief executive of the Belfast Health Trust is set to retire.

Marie Mallon, who also holds the post of Director of Human Resources at the trust, will leave her position in June.

Since the start of the new year there has been growing pressure on the emergency department at the RVH in Belfast.

Accountable

A major incident was called at the emergency department in January when too many people were waiting on trolleys.

The breached waiting time targets that culminated in that major incident triggered the question of who was being held accountable.

In a BBC interview at the time, Mr Donaghy said he would not resign and would continue to do the job as best he could.

A few weeks later escalation plans were triggered at the RVH under similar circumstances.

In a statement, Mr Donaghy said: "Health and Social Care is undergoing tremendous transformational change and Belfast Trust is at the heart of that.

"The opportunity for Belfast Trust in the future to deliver even better and more innovative services to the people of Belfast and to the regional population is unbounded.

'Deeply indebted'

"However, moving to Sussex is an exciting chapter and one that will, no doubt, present me with new challenges - all of which I am looking forward to."

The chairman of Belfast Trust Peter McNaney said Mr Donaghy had been a "tremendous asset" to the trust and had "worked diligently" to ensure patients and clients had received the best possible care.

"Colm's steadfast belief in the ability of our staff and his strong leadership has carried the organisation to its great achievements and through its challenges. We are all deeply indebted to him," he said.

Stormont Health Minister Edwin Poots told the assembly he had learned last week that Mr Donaghy intended to resign.

He said the job of overseeing the second largest health trust in the UK was a "stressful and tough" one.

"It will always be difficult to get people to carry out such a job because of the challenges that are there, but I am confident that there are people within the system who will step up to the mark and will take on what is a very challenging position," he added.

Mr Donaghy, who joined the health service in 1992, was appointed to the chief executive's job on the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust in August 2010.

Before that he held the post of chief executive of the Northern trust and had previously been chief executive of the Southern trust.

John Compton is retiring as chief executive of the health board in two weeks.

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