East Kent Hospitals Trust CEO Susan Acott to step down from role

Susan Acott

Susan Acott will be leaving East Kent Hospitals as Chief Executive next spring, four years after taking up the role after being appointed as the Trust’s substantive CEO in April 2018.

She said: “When I came to east Kent I came knowing the Trust faced a number of challenges but I was impressed by the quality and calibre of our staff and a number of high-quality services we were able to provide. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work alongside the staff, our partners, governors and the Board and to have the opportunity to bring about a number of changes and improvements for our patients.

“I therefore feel this is the right time to step aside and for the Trust to find its next CEO who will take the organisation forward on the next stage of its improvement journey.”

The Chairman of East Kent Hospitals, Niall Dickson CBE, said: “Susan has done a remarkable job taking this organisation through the global pandemic which is undoubtedly the most challenging period we have seen in the NHS.

“Her leadership skills, dedication, commitment, and resilience have made such a difference during this time and the whole Board is immensely grateful for all that she has achieved.

“Under her leadership we have made progress in many areas. Before the pandemic hit, the Trust’s performance across the key national targets had improved significantly: with shorter waiting times for patients in A&E; faster treatment for cancer patients and no patients waiting over 52 weeks for treatment.

“We are now working incredibly hard to see those patients who were not able to be seen during the pandemic, but this will be greatly helped by our new orthopaedic centre which Susan did so much to bring about.  She has also been key in attracting the investment for our new intensive care unit which is currently being built and the expansion of our two emergency departments.”

However, during Susan’s term as CEO the Trust has also been in the spotlight over a number of avoidable baby deaths, including that of seven day old Harry Richford.

Following a fight by his parents, Tom and Sarah, for an inquest and a campaign for justice led by grandfather Derek Richford, the trust was charged with failing to provide safe care and treatment.

The Trust was fined a total of £761,170 – inclusive of costs – for failing to discharge its duty to provide safe care and treatment, resulting in avoidable harm with the death of Harry and sub standard care of his mum.

An independent investigation was also launched in February 2020 when. NHS England and NHS Improvement commissioned Dr Bill Kirkup to carry out an independent review into the circumstances of the maternity deaths at QEQM and William Harvey hospitals.

The move came alongside  a report by the Health and Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) which found recurrent patient safety risks at the Trust maternity sites at QEQM and William Harvey Hospital.

Since Harry’s inquest a number of families have come forward over the preventable deaths of their babies.

The Trust also admitted blame in the death of six week old Luchii Gavrilescu due to tuberculosis which could have been prevented if action to diagnose and  treat his father for TB)had been taken almost two years before and admitted ‘sub standard care’ that resulted in the death of baby Archie Batten just 27 minutes after he was born.

Two Thanet groups, Save Our NHS in Thanet and Thanet Stroke Campaign, also took a case to the High Court – alongside Medway Council- to fight the decision made by a Joint Committee of Clinical Commissioning Groups’ (JCCCG) to remove acute stroke services from six hospitals in favour of three specialised units for Kent and Medway.

The legal action failed but the campaign is ongoing.

The search for a new CEO is now underway.

Susan will continue with her role as a member of the NHS Staff College Advisory Council and is currently a Board member on the NHS Employers Policy Board. She was previously CEO at Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust for eight years.  She started her career on the NHS General Management Training Scheme, having graduated from Birmingham University.  Before becoming chief executive at Dartford and Gravesham she worked in the NHS in Manchester, Merseyside, York and London.


  1. About time too. Her leadership has seen her responsible for a cover-up of neglect and baby deaths through poor work abilities, and the Chairman of EKC should be ashamed of himself for praising her work. Not the type of person you want in charge of health matters that is for sure. We need openness, truth and clarity within the NHS not cover-ups and neglect.

  2. Look at which NHS Trusts have done best in the past 20 years. The successful hospitals – in terms of clinical quality, financial management, good premises and short waiting times – are mainly in the north of England and most have much longer serving Chief Executives and senior management teams. Running an organisation like a major hospital takes excellent relationships with the top clinical staff, especially the Consultants. These relationships take time to grow. Consultants are generally in post for 30 years. They don’t warm to Trust hopping Chief Executives who think it is time to move on every 3-4 years. If senior management is perceived as primarily having their eyes on their next jobs rather than on the services to the patients and to the public then the clinical staff’s attitude and behaviour will follow suit. They will pay lip service to every new broom’s agenda for change, knowing it will soon pass as others have before them.

  3. Spot on. In recent decades we have seen how medical services are delivered by accountants, not by medics.
    It’s leaning towards the US system of health care, where outcomes are measured in terms of money saved and profits made, rather than quality of life outcomes.

  4. I have a file about an inch thick covering emails, and letters with the QEQM when I tried to have a sign erected to show the way to the Surgical ward. There is an overhead sign but it can only be seen when coming from the Ramsgate Road direction. People looking for the ward coming from St Peters Road direction walk pass it, so all it needs is a sign fixed to the wall saying “Surgical Ward” with an arrow under it.

    As I said, I have a file an inch thick trying to have this sign erected, and I failed despite making an official complaint! The Management at the QEQM couldn’t run a bath, or even get a hand drawn sign stuck on a wall, so people don’t walk around aimlessly looking for the ward, Duurh!

  5. She should still be held responsible and accountable for her failings not let the hospital pay out. Her salary and pay off plus pension should be deducted to pay towards and punish her failure to be open and honest with the people of thanet

  6. The Trust was poorly managed before her time and has not improved during her tenure as it was clearly beyond her skill set. One can only live in hope that her successor is up to the task in turning performance around and giving the people of Thanet the hospital they should expect.

  7. Susan Acott first courted controversy when she suggested that patients should pay for NHS treatment in a Radio 4 interview – that was when she led one of the North Kent CCGs. She came to EKHUFT and oversaw the running of the service into the ground. Now she’s off to who knows where… a strong likelihood is she’ll go to a well paid private sector role. Or maybe she’ll go to another NHS Trust and do a hatchet job there too, before she joins the revolving door merry-go-round.

  8. So she leaves during scoping inquiry by CPS and police, into QEQM Corporate Manslaughter. She leaves before Environment Agency enforcement of UN Stockholm Convention. She leaves before Kirkup Inquiry completes and reports.

  9. Before I moved to Thanet I lived in the Dartford area for many years a certain woman run Darenth hospital and left with a nice payment when it came into emergency measures,she then went to Medway hospital and left with a nice payment when that hospital was put into emergency measures she then move on to guess where so no surprise to me.

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