Top hospital boss announces retirement

Andrew Foster
Andrew Foster
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The borough's top hospital boss will retire later this year, it has been announced.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust said its chief executive Andrew Foster will work his final day in the role in mid-October.

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He has been steering the borough's hospitals for more than a decade, having been appointed in January 2007.

Announcing his departure, WWL chairman Robert Armstrong said: "After 12 years as our chief executive, Andrew Foster, has taken the difficult decision to retire.

“Andrew has overseen and steered the Trust through many significant developments in our organisational journey, from being awarded Foundation Trust status in 2008 and HSJ Provider Trust of the year in 2014, to helping shape the future of integrated care in Wigan and maintaining a strong position for WWL in hospital reconfiguration across Greater Manchester.

“His retirement will certainly be a bittersweet milestone, not just for WWL but for the wider health and care system in Wigan that he has been part of, and helped to shape, for so many years.

"Andrew’s drive to improve the quality and safety of health care, underpinned by valuing and engaging with staff has been central to the way we do things at WWL.

“Having worked with Andrew for 10 years, I know how much he will be missed at WWL and across the borough.

"He has been a strong leader, mentor and advisor as well as a supporter and friend to many. I’d like to express the thanks of the entire Trust board to Andrew and wish him well in the future.”

WWL said Mr Foster's main focus throughout his career was in quality, safety and staff engagement, with a particular desire to learn from the best hospitals in the world.

He took a comparatively unusual route to the CEO's office, serving as WWL chairman between 1996 and 2001 and then spending five years in an NHS human resources role at the Department of Health.

His principal responsibility was implementing the workforce expansion and HR systems modernisation set out in the NHS Plan. He personally led the negotiations for both Agenda for Change and the 2002 Consultant Contract.

However, negotiating the choppy waters of NHS funding amid significant funding cuts and savings last year led to a huge challenge when he found himself at the centre of the massive industrial dispute over subsidiary company WWL Solutions, a plan which was eventually dropped after several days of strike and negotiations with Wigan Council.

Mr Foster said: “I’ve absolutely loved my time at WWL where we have so many brilliant people doing such hugely important jobs, either directly with patients or supporting those with direct contact.

“What I will miss most is walking around the hospital and seeing our staff offering such wonderful care.

“I want to say a particular thank you to the leadership team at WWL, including governors, executive and non-executive directors, clinical leaders and the wider management team. I have also had the good fortune to work with great people in so many valuable partnerships, for example with other Trusts, with Wigan Borough Council and CCG and with Primary Care in Wigan.

“However, after 28 years as a director in the NHS, it’s time to make way for new blood.”

The recruitment process for Mr Foster's successor is due to begin soon.