Health watchdog to meet over NHS boss' law degree claim

Mason Fitzgerald has been appointed new chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Mason Fitzgerald has been appointed new chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. - Credit: NSFT

Inspectors will meet on Monday to decide whether to take any action after an NHS boss claimed to have a law degree which he never completed.

Mason Fitzgerald, deputy chief executive of the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), is due to take over as chief executive next month.

But a review is being carried out into his qualifications after he claimed to have a Master of Laws (LLM) from the University of Georgia.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand in 1998. He then went to the University of Georgia where his LinkedIn page previously stated he left with an LLM in 2000.

But the university confirmed to the BBC last month that he did not graduate. Mr Fitzgerald’s LinkedIn page has since been changed to state “degree not awarded”. 

Mason Fitzgerald

Mason Fitzgerald's LinkedIn profile lists the LLM from the University of Georgia. The profile was recently changed to state that the degree was not awarded. - Credit: LinkedIn

The NSFT and the East London Foundation Trust (ELFT), where he is seconded from, appointed legal firm Capsticks to carry out a review. It is not clear when that review will finish. 

Separately, inspectors at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are meeting on Monday to decide whether the information, which was first reported by the BBC, meets the threshold for something called a “fit and proper persons concern”. 

If it does then they will ask the NSFT and ELFT what action they are taking and give them ten days to respond. If they are not satisfied with that response, they could take enforcement action against the trusts. 

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The claim that Mr Fitzgerald had an LLM also appeared in several NHS board reports and in a medical journal.

The CQC said that it inspected files for six directors at the NSFT when it last visited the trust, but not Mr Fitzgerald’s, as he was still working for the ELFT at the time.

The CQC said it also checked a sample of directors’ files when it inspected the ELFT in 2018, but would not confirm if it had checked Mr Fitzgerald’s.

They added: “It is not CQC’s role to make a judgment on the fitness of the individual – this is a matter for the trust.”

The NSFT, ELFT and Mr Fitzgerald have all said they will not comment while the investigation is ongoing. 

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