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The chief executive of Britain’s biggest hospital trust today announced he was quitting after regulators expressed concerns at its looming £93 million deficit.

Peter Morris will leave Barts Health this summer in the wake of worsening financial pressures and concerns over patient care and staff bullying.

The deficit – the biggest ever recorded by a NHS trust – sparked demands for change from the Trust Development Authority, leading to Mr Morris’s departure. Chief nurse Kay Riley is also leaving the trust, which runs six east London hospitals including St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London.

NHS watchdog the Care Quality Commission recently found staff at Whipps Cross hospital were too frightened to reveal their concerns for fear of being bullied by managers.

Whipps Cross has been the subject of intense pressure at its A&E department. Patient care concerns have also been raised by patients at the Royal London, in Whitechapel.

Barts Health has just released this statement:

After six years as Chief Executive, during which he has overseen the merger of three hospital trusts in east London, led the largest NHS Trust in England through a period of unprecedented change and delivered the biggest hospitals redevelopment project in the country, Chief Executive, Peter Morris, has announced his intention to step down, allowing the process for the appointment of a successor to begin and an orderly hand-over to take place. Peter has agreed to continue in his role while the selection process is undertaken.

Peter Morris said: “When I joined Barts and The London NHS Trust, I set myself a target of five years to overhaul the fragile network of acute services that were operating in east London, and deliver the improvements to local healthcare that were so desperately needed. Barts Health is now well established and many of its services are achieving national recognition for excellence in clinical care. I will shortly be bringing together the specialist cardiovascular services of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, the London Chest Hospital and the Heart Hospital into stunning new facilities at the Barts Heart Centre, which will create one of the largest cardiovascular centres in the world.

“As Barts Health moves towards Foundation Trust status there is a need for senior management continuity to provide leadership for the next five years, and beyond. That is a long-term commitment that I am not able to make and so I feel the time is right for me to hand over to a new chief executive, and start the next chapter in my own career. I will look to take my extensive learning and experience in the healthcare sector to help others develop and deliver their own strategic plans.”

Sir Stephen O’Brien, Chairman of Barts Health NHS Trust, said:

“Peter has been an inspirational leader at Barts, seeing through one of the most far reaching service transformations ever attempted within the NHS with the merger that created Barts Health. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his tremendous achievements and to wish him well in his future career. I have asked Peter to ensure continuity by staying on until the summer and he has agreed to do that. Our search for a new chief executive will begin immediately.”

Notes to Editors:

Among the achievements that Peter Morris has overseen as Chief Executive of Barts Health NHS Trust are:
• Top 5 nationally for mortality rates: with a Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) of 0.80, the Trust is the fourth best in the country according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

• The creation of Barts Health NHS Trust. The new trust was formed on 1 April 2012 by the merger of Whipps Cross University Hospital NHS Trust in Leytonstone, Newham University Hospital NHS Trust in Plaistow and Barts and The London NHS Trust, including Barts Hospital in the City, The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, The London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green and services at Mile End Hospital. The creation of Barts Health was driven by the strong desire of all three trusts to improve the quality of healthcare in east London and to support the financial sustainability of health services at a time of growing pressure on NHS finances.

• Delivering the £1.1bn PFI project that saw the opening of three new hospitals: The new Royal London (including a new Dental Hospital); The Barts Cancer Centre; and the Barts Heart Centre. The opening of the new Royal London Hospital was the most complex hospital move undertaken in the UK, bringing together under one roof the hospital’s clinical teams, providing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide a health legacy to a community with some of the most challenging health needs anywhere in the developed world.

• Barts Health recognised as best in stroke care. According to the results of the latest audit published by The Royal College of Physicians, The Royal London, home to the Hyper Acute Stroke Unit (HASU), provides the best care to stroke patients in London. The audit looked at eight different areas in the patient experience – starting at diagnosis right through to rehabilitation. The hospital gained 97.5% in the overall audit and 100% in seven of the eight areas of care.

• Already recognised internationally as leaders in trauma care, The Royal London took a key role in establishing the London trauma network, which has gone on to save countless lives in caring for some of the most seriously injured patients across London.

• Barts Health established as leaders in clinical research. As well as being among the top performers for recruiting patients for clinical research, Barts Health is host for the region’s governance of £28m of National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) funding and are the lead organisation for clinical research in north/north east London, Essex and Hertfordshire.

• With a turnover of £1.25 billion and a workforce of 14,000, Barts Health NHS Trust is the largest NHS Trust in the country, and one of Britain’s leading healthcare providers. The Trust’s six hospitals – St Bartholomew’s (Barts) Hospital in the City, The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, The London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green, Newham University Hospital in Plaistow, Mile End Hospital and Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone – and its community health services for Tower Hamlets, deliver high quality compassionate care to the 2.5 million people of east London and beyond. Barts Health is founding partner in University College London Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre. The trust with its main academic partner Queen Mary University of London, has a NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit, is a CRUK Centre of Excellence, and hosts an NIHR CLAHRC and the North Thames Clinical Research Network.