The new interim chief executive at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust says she wants to develop services in which “people can feel completely confident”.

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Kim Hodgson, whose appointment was announced today, has previously held the position of chief executive for East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust. She is due to take up her new role next Tuesday, January 13 while the trust looks for a permanent replacement.

Her appointment comes less than a month after former chief executive, Dr Gordon Coutts, said he would not be returning to the post after a period of sick leave and follows several difficult months for the trust, which is being investigated over allegations that data on some cancer patient records was altered in order to hit targets.

Essex Police has launched an investigation into the allegations while health watchdog, Monitor, is carrying out an investigation into governance arrangements within the trust. Shortly before Christmas, a report from NHS England also found serious failings in the way some cancers were being treated, as well as problems with the tracking patients’ records and leadership across the trust’s cancers services.

A trained and registered nurse by background, Ms Hodgson said: “I am delighted to have been asked to lead the trust and I look forward to working with staff and to meeting some of our patients. From what I have seen and heard already, there is a strong patient focus across both hospitals and I am confident that we can rise to the challenges that we face.”

She added: “With the support of the board, I want to set a clear direction for the trust and work closely with partners in local health and social care settings to continue to provide and develop services in which local people can feel completely confident.”

Speaking of the appointment, Dr Sally Irvine, chairman of Colchester NHS Trust, said: “I am very pleased to welcome Kim as our interim chief executive. We have been lucky to attract a very strong candidate within such a short period of time. I believe that Kim has the experience, drive and commitment to lead the trust forward after what has been a difficult year for our staff and for the wider hospital community.”

The appointment has also prompted Sue Barnett, deputy chief executive at Colchester NHS Trust, to announce her resignation.

Ms Barnett took charge of the trust briefly at the end of 2013 after Dr Coutts did not return from sick leave.

She began working as director of operations in an interim capacity in 2009 and, after five years in her current role, plans to return to the interim market within the NHS. She will be leaving the trust in mid-March.

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