Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust: Mason Fitzgerald withdraws application

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image copyrightLinkedIn
image captionMason Fitzgerald's "qualification" had appeared on numerous official documents

An incoming NHS Trust chief executive who was facing an inquiry into his qualifications has withdrawn his application for the position.

Mason Fitzgerald was due to take up the role at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), which is in special measures.

A Master of Laws degree had appeared by his name on annual reports submitted to Parliament, but he had not graduated.

Mr Fitzgerald will return to the East London Foundation Trust.

He had been due to leave his current role as NSFT deputy chief executive to take up the leadership role at the trust in April.

He would have overseen an annual budget of approximately £260m.

image captionThe Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust said its recruitment process is robust

The qualification appeared alongside Mr Fitzgerald's name on three annual reports submitted by both NSFT, a mental health trust, and the East London Foundation Trust, where he previously worked.

Mr Fitzgerald's LinkedIn profile also stated the degree had been awarded by the University of Georgia in the US.

But the university had said he "did not graduate but was in the law school graduate program".

NSFT commissioned a leading law firm to investigate after the BBC revealed the discrepancy.

In an internal email seen by the BBC, the trust's chairwoman Marie Gabriel said Mr Fitzgerald had been clear about his qualifications.

She said: "Mason submitted two applications for roles at NSFT, in both he was clear with the trust that he did not have a masters of law qualification from the University of Georgia.

"We confirmed that he did have all relevant qualifications".

Ms Gabriel added the review had found NSFT "had and continues to have a robust recruitment process in place".

The trust confirmed Mr Fitzgerald had "withdrawn his application for the role of chief executive at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust".

It added: "The independent review concluded that NSFT has robust recruitment processes in place."

The trust said the review had found it should strengthen its process regarding information submitted for inclusion in annual reports.

Current NSFT chief executive Jonathan Warren is set to retire on 31 March.

The trust is looking for an interim chief executive prior to appointing a permanent successor.

image copyrightNHS England
image captionNorfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust's Marie Gabriel said Mason Fitzgerald had been clear in his job application that he did not have the law degree

The East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) said Mr Fitzgerald would return "to ELFT from which he was seconded".

The trust added: "It would be inappropriate to comment any further at this stage while ELFT's processes remain ongoing."

On Monday, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is set to look at the case.

A spokeswoman said it would "consider whether the information raises a fit and proper persons concern".

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust is currently rated as "requires improvement" by the CQC.

In 2015, NSFT became the first mental health trust to be placed in special measures and was rated "inadequate" on three occasions by the CQC.

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