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Karen Baker (left) with former Prime Minster David Cameron

UPDATED: Karen Baker, Chief Executive of the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, is to stand down from her role with immediate effect today (Friday).

The Trust board have asked Executive Medical Director Dr Mark Pugh to step in as acting Chief Executive for a short period. The Trust Board expect to confirm in April the appointment of an interim Chief Executive. He or she will be with the Trust for up to 6 months whilst the Trust board undertake the recruitment of a new permanent Chief Executive.

Karen Baker said:

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“I have been the Chief Executive of this NHS Trust for almost five years and I am proud of the progress we have made in many areas during that period. The My Life a Full Life new care model offers an integrated approach to delivering health and care that will be of real value not just on the Isle of Wight but in many other parts of the country too.

“It is true, however, that the NHS on the Isle of Wight – like the NHS elsewhere – faces many big challenges and it is clear to me that we have not always provided the quality of care the public expects. I am very sorry about that and as Chief Executive I take my full share of the responsibility. I now feel that after almost five years the Trust needs a fresh pair of eyes to take it on the next stage of its development journey.

“It is a matter of public record that within weeks the Care Quality Commission will be publishing a report on the health services delivered by the Isle of Wight NHS Trust. It would be wrong to say more about this report before publication but I know it will contain some important messages about how we can improve healthcare on the island. I do not want questions about my own position to detract from these important messages around the time of publication. I have therefore decided to stand down as Chief Executive with immediate effect.

“I love the Isle of Wight and its people and I have nothing but admiration for the care and commitment of those who work and volunteer for the NHS on the Island. I believe the NHS is on a journey of continuous improvement and that you can and will develop a top class health and care service on the Isle of Wight.”

Karen Baker is a former nurse and midwife. She spent 18 years in clinical practice before moving into healthcare management.

Eve Richardson, the Chair of the Isle of Wight NHS Trust Board said:

“I would like to thank Karen for her hard work and commitment over the past five years. It has been a challenging period for the NHS nationally and there have been additional challenges that are unique to the Isle of Wight. It is a tribute to Karen that she was the first to recognise the need for a fresh start. Karen will not be receiving any kind of severance payment.

“The Trust Board’s priority now is to work with our new Improvement Director, Philippa Slinger and when appointed the interim Chief Executive, to develop the necessary improvement plans arising from the upcoming Care Quality Commission report.”

UPDATE @ 20:50 – Following the decision of Karen Baker to step down Helen Shields, Chief Officer of the Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has this evening said:

“We respect the decision that Karen has made to stand down as Chief Executive of the Isle of Wight NHS Trust. We recognise the commitment that Karen has made to health services for the island over the last five years, and particularly the role she has played in championing the My Life a Full Life new model of care for the Island.

“Currently, across a range of areas, the Isle of Wight NHS Trust is not providing the quality of services required and we are concerned about the future sustainability of some services. The publication today by NHS England of the ‘Next Steps on the Five Year Forward View’ and the Care Quality Commission report due shortly will act as catalysts for change on the Island. As the organisation responsible for purchasing these services we will work closely with the acting Chief Executive, Dr Mark Pugh, and the future interim Chief Executive, to ensure that the care we are buying for islanders is demonstrably improved over the coming months.”

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