The chief executive of the trust that runs the Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble hospitals is retiring from the NHS – to become a healthcare boss in Gibraltar.Advertisement
Kevin McGee, 62, took on the top job at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust just under two years ago.
The announcement of his departure – likely to be later this year – was made to staff at the hospitals on Wednesday lunchtime, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) understands.
Read more: New Royal Preston Hospital building work ‘won’t start until 2030’
It means that the county’s largest NHS trust – which, in the Royal Preston, hosts the major trauma centre for Lancashire and South Cumbria – is now searching for a new day-to-day leader as well as a chair of its board. The latter role has been vacant for a year and has remained without a permanent post-holder in spite of two recruitment rounds.
Mr. McGee was already a senior figure in the NHS in Lancashire before arriving at LTH in September 2021, having led East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust from 2014 and then adding Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to his responsibilities in 2019.
His tenure at LTH has been marked by operational and financial challenges – not least efforts to reduce the backlog of procedures and appointments that built up during the height of the pandemic and dealing with the impact of the nursing and junior doctor strikes that have beset the NHS in recent months.
He told the LDRS in April that the winter from which the health service had just emerged had been the toughest he had known during his 25 years in the sector.
Mr. McGee was also in the hot seat at LTH when the future of the Royal Preston was finally confirmed in May with the announcement that funding had been secured to build a brand new hospital facility for the city, along with another for Lancaster.
Read more: Royal Preston Hospital featured in Channel 5 documentary
In a statement announcing his retirement, he said: “Being part of the NHS family for all these years has been an absolute privilege and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have worked with so many talented people who have chosen to make patient care their life’s work.
“Lancashire Teaching Hospitals plays a pivotal role in the local health system and I am exceptionally pleased that funding has now been secured for new hospitals for Preston and Lancaster as part of the New Hospitals Programme. Reaching this important milestone is an ideal time to pass the baton on to someone who can commit the next five years or so to bringing these exciting plans to fruition.
“Healthcare is my passion, so I am delighted that I will be staying in this sector and taking up the role of Director General for Healthcare for the Gibraltar Health Authority.
“I would like to thank all staff at my own trust and within the surrounding system, as well as our partners and communities, for their unwavering support of both me personally and their local NHS,” he concluded.
Read more: Unannounced visit from Care Quality Commission to Royal Preston Hospital
Having started in the NHS as director finance at the West Lancashire Community Trust in 1998, Mr. McGee rose to become chief executive of the George Eliot Trust in Warwickshire in 2011, before returning to Lancashire three years later to head up the organisation that runs the Royal Blackburn.
In recent years, he has become a senior figure at a Lancashire and South Cumbria level in the NHS and is the chief executive of the region’s Provider Collaborative, which brings together trusts from across the patch.
His contribution to health services was recognised in the late Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2021, when he was awarded an OBE.
Professor Paul O’Neill, acting chair at LTH, said: “Kevin has been a fabulous chief executive, providing wise counsel and strong leadership to the trust as we strive to reduce waiting lists and improve patient experience following the pandemic.
“His experience of system working has been of huge benefit and in addition to his important contribution to the New Hospitals Programme, during his time here he has attracted significant investment to our facilities including new theatres at both Preston and Chorley, the Nightingale Hub and improved surgical and medical assessment areas all of which have or will have a tangible effect on patient experience.
“I know I speak for the entire board when I say we wish to thank him for all that he has done for the NHS and wish him all the very best in the next stage of his life and career.”
LTH met a national deadline last summer to clear any patients waiting two years or more for treatment and all but did the same for 18-month waiters earlier this year, with just a small number remaining due to the impact of strike action, according to board papers published in June.
Read more: Preston politicians react to ‘new South Ribble’ hospital location
The trust has a £48.5m financial improvement plan savings target to hit during 2023/24.
David Flory, chair of the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board, said of Mr. McGee’s departure: “Having known and worked with Kevin for many years, I believe he ranks amongst the top chief executives in terms of his knowledge, vision and commitment to the communities he serves and is a very well respected leader within the NHS community.
“He has been instrumental in setting up the local Provider Collaborative and has laid down strong foundations for others to now build on. So whilst he is a loss to the NHS, he will be leaving behind a strong legacy in Lancashire and South Cumbria, as well as many friends who will no doubt be keeping in touch in the years ahead.”
The average temperature range in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar – Mr. McGee’s soon-to-be home – is 11-16 degrees Celsius in January, rising to 21-28 degrees in August.
Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines