Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust chief executive Clare Panniker is set to take the reins at a third hospital trust.
Panniker became chief executive of Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust in April, and will imminently assume control over Southend University Hospital FT.
Current chief executive, Sue Hardy, is standing down, acknowledged by the trust itself.
Panniker is already intimately involved in healthcare in the region, considering that she has a leadership remit in a team responsible for overarching the three trusts.
All three are contained within the mid and South Essex success regime, and the new move will effectively formalise her leadership role within the region, in a move which some have described as unprecedented.
Certainly it is difficult to point to an individual working within the NHS system with such wide-ranging responsibility.
The appointment has yet to be fully confirmed, as it needs to be rubber stamped by the board in Southend.
In a statement on the subject, the trust stated that Hardy is “stepping aside as chief executive…in recognition that a single executive team will enable the three trusts to better deliver the shared ambition of developing the best possible services across the trusts.”
The statement went on to note that a final decision has not been made on the replacement, owing to the stringent nature of the selection process.
“Appointment to the joint executive roles are following a rigorous selection process and further announcements around the appointment of roles within the single executive team will be made shortly.”
Hardy is “seeking other opportunities within the NHS,” according to the trust.
The change follows Ms Panniker being appointed last March to head a new leadership team overseeing all three of the hospitals in the south and mid Essex success regime.
The team will run the three struggling Essex trusts, which have combined revenues of £840 million, as a “network” of hospitals with a “flexible workforce”.
System leaders hope the new structure will pave the way for a significant reconfiguration of acute services as they grapple with how to balance an estimated £216 million overspend across the mid and south Essex health economy by 2018-19.
Hardy also commented on her time in the position.
“It has been a privilege to be chief executive of Southend Hospital, but I now feel it is the right time to step aside and pursue other opportunities as the trust moves into a new era. This decision is not one I have taken lightly and I am sad to leave, but also proud of the hard work we have achieved together, particularly in introducing a clinical leadership structure within the trust and making our finances more stable.”