New hospitals Chief Executive starts work at “one of country’s toughest jobs” – and promises focus on maternity services

Anthony May, inset, and the Queen's Medical Centre
By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter

The new Chief Executive of Nottingham University Hospitals Trust has started work today – with a promised focus on improving maternity services.

Anthony May takes up the most senior operational role at the trust, which runs Nottingham City Hospital and the Queen’s Medical Centre.

One Nottinghamshire County Councillor and health scrutiny committee member welcomed Mr May by saying there is “no one better”, but warned he faces “one of the toughest jobs in the country”.

In an open letter published on his first day, September 1, Mr May apologised on behalf of the trust for its failings in maternity care.

He takes up the post on the same day a new independent review into a series of baby deaths and incidents at the trust begins – which will be led by healthcare and midwifery expert Donna Ockenden.

Mr May arrives after leaving Nottinghamshire County Council, where he was one of the authority’s longest-serving chief executives, and was praised by colleagues before his departure from the authority.

A county councillor who has long campaigned for change at the Trust told the Local Democracy Reporting Service there was “no one better” to head up the trust in the current climate.

Mr May said in the letter he was “proud” of his new colleagues, saying he has  already “seen first-hand how hard they work and how vital, and often challenging, their roles can be”.

He added: “In particular, I will focus on improvements in our maternity services.

“From the outset of my tenure at NUH, I want to offer my unreserved apologies, on behalf of the Trust, for the distress that has been caused due to the failing in our maternity services.

“I am determined to deliver the improvements needed in maternity services, building on the work of our Maternity Improvement Programme. The Independent Maternity Review, led by Donna Ockenden, starts today and is an important milestone for women and families, and for NUH.

“I would like to welcome Donna and her team to Nottingham and I look forward to working collaboratively with Donna, as part of our wider improvement programme.

“While there is more to do, I have been impressed by the hard work, dedication and expertise of the teams I have met across NUH.”

The trust overall is rated by inspectors as ‘requires improvement’ and its maternity services are graded as ‘inadequate’.

Another report published by the Care Quality Commission in 2021 described a “culture of bullying” at the organisation.

Rupert Egginton had been in the role of interim Chief Executive at the hospitals trust since the departure of Tracy Taylor in 2021 following a long period of Covid-related ill-health.

Mr May published his 100 Day Plan last month, outlining his priorities in the new role, including emergency pathways and flow through the hospital, maternity services, culture and leadership and recruitment and retention of staff.

His 100 day plan includes walkabouts to meet staff across the trust, meeting with local MPs and attending meetings.

Nottinghamshire County Councillor Michelle Welsh (Lab), who has worked with Mr May as a council officer and a councillor, said: “I’ve got an enormous amount of respect for Anthony because he listens.

“This quality will be fundamental to making improvements.

“The NHS is under enormous pressure, and this is one of the toughest jobs in the country – but there’s no one better to head up our hospitals at the moment.

“The fact that he’s prepared to that on is very admirable. He won’t give anything short of 100%

“I hope he meets with the families regarding the maternity crisis as soon as possible.”

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