East Kent Hospitals Trust chairman leaves role ‘for personal and health reasons’

Niall Dickson

It has been announced that East Kent Hospitals Trust chairman Niall Dickson, CBE, leaves his role by December 31.

Mr Dickson, who became the chairman in April 2021, had taken a voluntary period of absence in October,

He says he has decided not to seek a second term and is standing down for personal and health reasons.

He said: “This is an organisation filled with dedicated and committed staff who give so much day in day out and I am confident that with the right support the Trust will continue its improvement journey.

“I am pleased that we have made progress on key areas during my tenure, including significant improvements in staffing, in our maternity care, in listening to and involving patients and by taking steps to create a more open culture.

“The challenges laid out by Dr Kirkup’s report last year are significant and, as we have always said, apply not just to maternity but to the organisation as a whole.  There are also great demands on our services.

“This improvement work will take at least another three or four years and will require every effort from the whole Board, the Governors and every member of staff at the Trust, as well as focused support from the NHS centrally, including the capital funding it needs to provide safe, effective and sustainable services to the people of East Kent.

“It will also require dedicated teamwork from all health and care staff and their organisations across East Kent. I have been privileged to chair our Health and Care Partnership and I must pay tribute to everyone involved in that endeavour, which is starting to make a real difference.”

Vice-chair Stewart Baird is stepping into the Chair role until a permanent successor is appointed.

This month the Care Quality Commission (CQC)  issued a warning notice to East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust saying it must make immediate improvements in three services following an inspection in July.

CQC carried out an unannounced focused inspection of the trust’s urgent and emergency department (ED), medical care (including older people’s services) and children and young people services at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate and the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford. Inspectors also looked at the management and leadership of the trust overall.

The inspection was undertaken as part of continual checks on the safety and quality of healthcare services and to check on the progress of improvements the trust was told to make at a previous inspection.

Last year an independent report into maternity failings at QEQM and William Harvey Hospitals found 45 baby deaths could have been avoided.

The report, led by Dr Bill Kirkup and published in October 2022, reviewed the circumstances of maternity deaths at the East Kent Hospitals Trust sites in between 2009 and 2020 in response to a concerning number of avoidable baby deaths.

Issues with maternity were brought into the spotlight following the death of baby Harry Richford at Margate’s QEQM Hospital in 2017 after a series of errors.

The hospitals trust is among the “most challenged” in the country, as it faces a deficit of nearly £70m.

The financial troubles of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) are so severe it remains under NHS England oversight, with bosses calling in independent consultants to explain the reasons behind their struggles.


  1. My recent visit to the qeqm no problems accident and emergency dept ot was exceptional service was seen very quickly the staff were very supportive of the patient it seems that kent and Canterbury hospital and Ashford are looking squeaky clean with no problems we the public and patients need to see reports at these hospitals or is it another attempt to downgrade again our local hospital as attempts were made in the past.

    • The position is just one of very well paid fall guy/scapegoat. An every 2-3 years revolving door of one the trust dubs a ‘safe pair of hands’ after the scandals have got to hot for them media wise, that in fact have their hands tied & just do as instructed by the trust.

      It is quite clear that if every one of them does exactly the same thing & more importantly what they don’t do that the trust don’t want anything to change.

  2. I worked 39 years in the NHS both general and mental health. If applied for the chairmanship they would turn me down because I would know what needs to be done, those who appoint so called senior management all have the same thing in common they are all victims of government bullying all the government tell them is cut this cut that so it’s a constant battle with absolutely useless here today and gone tomorrow government ministers. The evil Conservatives need to be gone.

    • Oh give it a rest! ‘Cuts cuts’ one of the latest none jobs advertised by EKHUT Organisational Development Consultant. People and Culture £50952 to £57349. Empire building on a grand scale while the front line suffers! There is plenty of money floating about but it feather beds jobs like this!

  3. I know it’s not his fault,but he does bear a striking resemblance to Lavrenty Beria,Stalin’s NKVD henchman,

  4. The search is on for another ‘safe pair of hands’ who can ignore all the various reports recommendations(that should be mandatory) on behalf of the trust & carry on as usual with avoidable patient deaths & injuries, near misses being ignored & not reported bullying whistleblowers etc. Still at least they have a nice shiny new A&E for it to happen in.

  5. Lawrence that’s peanuts compared to MPs pay The basic annual salary of a Member Of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons is £86,584, as of April 2023. In addition, MPs are able to claim allowances to cover the costs of running an office and employing staff, and maintaining a constituency residence or a residence in London. MPs don’t have cut cuts cuts like the NHS keep having.

  6. I agree MPS are widely over paid, they are all self servicing. They shouldn’t be allowed the allowance for staff, property, and other perks they enjoy. Let’s be honest the entire political system in this country doesn’t work, it’s out dated and requires radical reform. Moreover the gifts they have to dish out gongs and knighthoods should be abolished as should hereditary Lord’s and making of Lords and ladies, most of the government cronies which get these have achieved nothing in order to recieve them.

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