The temporary boss at Blackpool Victoria Hospital will remain in charge for the “foreseeable future” amid a struggle to replace Wendy Swift.
Kevin McGee has been splitting his time between Blackpool and the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, where he is also chief executive, since Ms Swift retired from the top job in April.
Bosses at the Vic are understood to have been left disappointed by the calibre of applicants vying to fill the vacant role, and are reluctant to act impatiently as the battle to improve standards of care continues.
Chairman Pearse Butler told board members applications “were not considered to be strong enough and therefore no candidates had been shortlisted”, hospital documents said.
“He stated that it was more important to appoint a strong candidate rather than a candidate who happened to be available when the post was advertised.
“The chairman reported that efforts would continue in the recruitment of a chief executive and, hopefully, he would be able to update board members in the next two to three weeks and definitely before the next board meeting.”
Mr McGee’s temporary tenure has arguably been as tumultuous as the final months of Ms Swift’s reign.
A major police investigation into the suspected poisoning of patients on the stroke unit continues, as does a separate murder investigation, while he has had to oversee an action plan drawn up after the health industry regulator Care Quality Commission (CQC) blasted the quality of care in a report released in April and rated the hospital ‘requires improvement’ overall.
In the action plan, Mr McGee, inset, said boosting standards is the trust’s “principle priority”. He added: “In my short time as chief executive … I have had the privilege to witness staff who are caring, compassionate, and take immense pride in their work.”
A hospital spokesman told The Gazette: “Kevin McGee has recently agreed to continue his role as interim chief executive at the trust for the foreseeable future, with no
dates finalised as yet.”
And a spokesman for the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “While taking overall responsibility for the strategic direction of two NHS trusts is challenging, Kevin has the support of two high-performing Boards, with strong Executive teams, and effective senior management.
“The next few years will be an ambitious and exciting time for our trust as ELHT continues its improvement journey and plays a major role in transforming health and social care services across Pennine Lancashire.”
On its website, the trust, which runs hospitals in Blackburn, Burnley, Clitheroe, Accrington, and Pendle, said that, while Mr McGee remains the accountable officer – ie the man ultimately responsible – Dr Damian Riley has stepped up to fill the role of acting chief executive there.