Essex

Hospital boss Clare Panniker takes on Southend NHS trust

Clare Panniker
Image caption Clare Panniker will now be leading three NHS hospital trusts in Essex

A hospital chief executive will be the first to take charge of three NHS trusts at the same time.

Clare Panniker will lead Southend hospital trust after its chief executive stepped down on Tuesday.

Ms Panniker who will be in charge of providing a service for 1.2 million people, spoke of the "absolute privilege" of being appointed.

She is already the chief executive of Basildon and Thurrock Hospitals Trust and Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

Under her leadership both improved to be rated as "good" by the Care Quality Commission.

The NHS Confederation said it believed this was the first time someone had been appointed to lead three NHS trusts.

Image caption In August, Southend University Hospital was rated as "requiring improvement" by the Care Quality Commission

She will be supported at Southend by a managing director who will oversee the day-to-day running of the hospital site.

Ms Panniker said she was looking forward to her new role and would "ensure that we continue to deliver the very best possible care for the people of Southend and surrounding areas".

Southend's chairman, Alan Tobias said: "Clare's leadership and guidance will enable us to respond effectively and collaboratively."

Dr Tom Nutt of Healthwatch Essex said healthcare in Essex needs re-designing and described the appointment as "progress" and "a step in the right direction".

"It is a big job running three hospitals but this presents the opportunity for someone to look at whether hospital services can be improved through combined leadership," Dr Nutt added.

Ms Panniker takes over a trust that is facing a number of challenges.

In August, Southend was rated as "requiring improvement" by the Care Quality Commission after an inspection expressed several concerns, including that of its leadership.

The health regulator Monitor said in March "there are concerns about the licensee's short and long-term financial sustainability" after it reported a £19.5m forecast deficit in 2015-16 against a planned deficit of £7m.

In 2015-16 operating expenses for all three hospitals totalled more than £936m.

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