Suffolk will share its new health boss

SUFFOLK is to be forced to share its health boss with another region despite millions of pounds of debt overshadowing the county's NHS, it emerged today.

SUFFOLK is to be forced to share its health boss with another region despite millions of pounds of debt overshadowing the county's NHS, it emerged today.

The new chief executive of the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority will be Alan Burns, who currently holds the position for the Trent SHA in the East Midlands.

But he will continue in his Nottingham-based role as well as taking over the reins in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

It is believed he will spend three days a week working for NSC and two days a week for Trent.

He will step in to the shoes of current chief executive Peter Houghton who announced last week that he was leaving to take up the post of director of the National Leadership Network for the NHS.

A spokesman for the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire SHA denied the decision to share a chief executive was influenced by the need to cut costs and said it was more to do with the speed in which he needed to be recruited.

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He said: "The Department of Health wanted Peter Houghton to do this important job of putting this national network together.

"Because there's a need to set up the national network very quickly it means he's had to move off to that very quickly."

The decision was made by bosses at the Department of Health in consultation with the chairmen of the SHAs.

Mr Houghton's is due to finish work at the SHA today and Mr Burns is expected to begin within the next two weeks.

Mr Burns has worked in both Cambridgeshire and Norfolk in the past but has never worked in Suffolk's health service.

He has worked in the NHS for nearly 30 years and has a record of success in the Trent region where 12 out of 30 trusts have a three-star rating.

Keith Pearson, chairman of the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire SHA, said: "The Board is delighted to have a highly experienced individual, such as Alan Burns join the NSC SHA.

"Alan has a wealth of knowledge and experience within the NHS to lead our work across the three counties."

What do you think of the decision to have a shared chief executive? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to

Trent SHA:

Trent SHA serves the three East Midland counties of Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. It serves a combined population of 2.7 million people and a total NHS budget of £2.5 billion.

Trent is diverse and covers the rural areas of the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire and sparsely populated communities in Lincolnshire, together with the more densely populated, multi-cultural cities of Nottingham and Derby.

It contains 19 primary care trusts, two ambulance trusts, six acute hospital trusts and three mental health trusts.

Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgshire SHA:

The three counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire have a population of 2.2 million which is growing significantly, particularly in Cambridgeshire.

As well as the four urban centres of Peterborough, Norwich, Ipswich and Cambridge, there are small to medium sized towns - largely market towns - across the three counties.

The rest of the population lives in rural areas and is relatively evenly distributed, except in the sparsely populated areas of the Fens and Buckland.

It contains 16 PCTs, nine acute hospital trusts, one ambulance trust and two mental health trusts.

Who's gone?

Peter Houghton's resignation from the Strategic Health Authority is the latest in a long line of resignations by high profile health bosses in the last eight months:

October 2004: Lilian Power, chairman of the Ipswich PCT, resigned accusing bosses at the SHA of a culture of bullying.

December 2004: Stewart Francis, chairman of the Strategic Health Authority, resigned in order to take on a full time role with the Rail Passenger's Council.

January 2005: Brian Parrot, chairman of Central Suffolk PCT, stood down to concentrate on his national roles within the NHS.

April 2005: Peter Houghton, chief executive of the SHA, announced he is to stand down in order to concentrate on his work with the NHS' National Leadership Network.

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