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New Chief Executive announced for Torbay Hospital

Published: 22 December 2014

South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is delighted to announce the appointment of a substantive Chief Executive to lead the Trust as it prepares to integrate with Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust.

Mairead McAlinden, who will be relocating to Devon from Northern Ireland to take up the post in April 2015, has personal experience of integrating health and care services in her role as Chief Executive of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, which she has held since September 2009.

Announcing the appointment, Sir Richard Ibbotson, Chair of South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We had an exceptionally strong field of candidates for this post, which I believe reflects our track record of providing excellent health and care and our innovative and ambitious agenda to be a national lead for integrating and delivering truly person-centred services.”

“The recruitment process was challenging for our candidates, involving focus groups with staff from both trusts, consultants and external stakeholders, as well as presentations, informal interviews and a formal interview, whose panel included the Chairman of Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust. Mairead already has experience of integrating different organisations successfully, but what particularly inspired us was her vision and leadership style. She clearly leads by example and understands the scale of the challenge that lies ahead for us. We look forward to welcoming her to Torbay.”

“I would also like, at this point, to publicly acknowledge the outstanding manner in which our Interim Chief Executive, Dr John Lowes, has led the Trust through a challenging summer, for which we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.”

The appointment of Ms McAlinden as Chief Executive was ratified by the Trust’s Council of Governors last week. Lead Governor, Cathy French, who was also on the interview panel, commented: “Mairead’s passion for working with staff to do the right thing for patients came across very strongly at all stages of the recruitment process. She is an excellent advocate for empowering staff to deliver innovation – with patients and service users always in mind. Her experience of integrated services in Northern Ireland will be put to very good use in our health community.”

Mairead has worked in a range of health and social care posts since 1992. Her last five years have been spent leading an integrated health and social care Trust in Northern Ireland, with an income of £550million and 13,000 staff serving a population of around 400,000. The Southern Health and Social Care Trust is recognised in Northern Ireland and beyond as high performing, innovative and with excellent safety and quality outcomes. Under Mairead’s leadership, the Trust has been a CHKS Top 40 Hospital* for the last three years. Her previous role within the Trust was as Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Performance and Reform, and part of the leadership team that managed the integration of four Trusts into the new Trust in 2007. Before this Mairead was the Regional Director of Integrated Care and Treatment Services (2006) in the Department of Health and Social Services in Northern Ireland and Director of Planning and Performance (2002 to 2006) for the service commissioning organisation for the Southern area of Northern Ireland.

Commenting on her appointment, Mairead said: “I am delighted and honoured to be offered the post as your new Chief Executive, and am truly inspired by Torbay and South Devon’s vision to become an exemplar for the integration of health and social care services. My focus will be to build on the excellent work and world class innovation I have already seen in the leadership of the Trust and in the front line staff I have met.

“In the short time I was here for my visit and then my interview, I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome I received from members of the Trust Board, staff, Governors, and our local partners in Council and Commissioning, and I saw clear evidence of the culture of caring and the deep sense of responsibility to local people who need our services. I look forward to working alongside you to continue the journey of improvement for the population of Torbay and South Devon.”

“I always say that if something is not good enough for me or my family, it’s not good enough for anyone, and I sense that’s how it is here too. It’s a challenging time for the NHS in England, but I know that we can meet the challenges, because we are building on an excellent foundation. As we work together to develop the integrated care organisation, our two Trusts have plenty of experience to bring in showing what excellent services can look like in future.”

Interim Chief Executive, Dr John Lowes, commented: “Mairead is joining a committed and innovative team at a very exciting time in our history. We look forward to welcoming her to Torbay and I shall give her my full support.”

Dr Jon Andrewes, Chair of Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust, added: “Mairead was an exceptional candidate and quickly won the support of everyone she met. She is very fortunate to be taking over from John Lowes, who has done a superb job as Interim Chief Executive. He has won the confidence and support not only of clinicians but of all our staff and stakeholders and is handing over a well led, well managed and cohesive organisation.”