Healthcare provider Serco has appointed a new chief executive for Suffolk Community Healthcare with effect from today.

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Dr Abigail Tierney has succeeded Patrick Birchall, who had only been in the position since October 2012.

In a statement Serco said Mr Birchall would be “working on a special project for Serco’s healthcare business, which aims to make its performance data public, open and transparent”.

Serco have denied that the switch was motivated by recent criticism of the company or the announcement last month that it expects to make a £9 million loss in its first year.

A spokeswoman said: “Patrick is an expert on data and data collection and we have undertaken, as a global organisation, to make our performance data much more transparent and open and public, and he basically was the best person for this job.”

She added that the timing was not significant.

Previously Dr Tierney was director of development for healthcare, leading on large, complex partnerships, including integrated care and outcomes-based contracting.

Prior to that, she was director of strategy and innovation at University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust. She joined the Trust after leaving her role as director of strategic leadership at Aberdeen City Council, where she was responsible for collaborating with public and private partners to set the strategic direction for the City.

Dr Tierney said: “When I was at Leicester, I was a very satisfied customer of Serco and impressed by their passion for delivering high-quality services, which is why I joined them.

“I was particularly drawn to Suffolk by the vision for delivering an integrated urgent care service and the ambition of clinical commissioning groups and broader stakeholders to achieve it. Serco is committed to that vision and to providing patients with high-quality, sustainable services.

“I am very proud of the work our people do day in, day out. Where we have made mistakes, we have learned from them, we will continue to learn from them, and we will deliver our promises. Our commitment to healthcare is undiminished.”

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