New NHS trust boss promises to ‘personally champion’ patient interests

nhs trust chief executive
Ron Shields is the new CEO of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust

A ONCE scandal-hit NHS trust has appointed a new chief executive promising to “personally champion” the interests of its patients.


Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for mental health services and hospitals at Lymington, Hythe and Fordingbridge, has chosen Ron Shields to replace the outgoing Nick Broughton.

Mr Shields’ task is to continue improvements made at Southern Health, based at Tatchbury Mount, near Totton. It employs 6,000 staff who also provide community health and learning disability services to 1.3-million people in Hampshire.

The trust has come under fire in recent years, including a £2m fine in relation to health and safety breaches over the deaths of two patients, including that of Theresa Colvin (45), from Lyndhurst, in 2012.

Care watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) gave it a ‘requires improvement’ rating before it was uprated this year to ‘good’ – the second best of four – under the leadership of Dr Broughton, who is moving to Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Shields said: “I am proud to be joining an organisation that shows it learns from past experiences and where everyone involved with the trust is passionate about delivering the very best possible services.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
Previous boss Dr Nick Broughton

“As chief executive, it is my job to support and encourage the fantastic people at Southern Health to realise their potential and to fulfil their ambitions for the people we serve.

“I am looking forward to working with partners and users of services to deliver the very best, joined-up services and to personally champion the interests of service users.”

Mr Shields’ career spans varied roles across physical and mental health, inpatient and community settings. He was previously chief executive at Dorset Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which he led to achieve a CQC rating of ‘outstanding’.
He added: “It is a privilege to be a chief executive in the NHS and I am really excited about joining the team at Southern Health.

“The response to the coronavirus amplifies my belief in the people of the NHS and the strengths of people in the communities we serve.”

The trust said Dr Broughton and Mr Shields will “ensure a smooth transition” in June, and the new CEO had undergone a “rigorous selection and assessments process”.

Trust chair Lynne Hunt added: “I am delighted to announce that Ron is joining us and I have every confidence he’ll lead the trust forwards on our journey of improvement for the benefit of our patients and local communities.

“Ron’s personal commitment to championing patients, listening to the needs of staff, and his ability to lead real improvements to NHS services, have been apparent throughout his extensive career and make him an ideal fit for Southern Health.”