Royal Preston Hospital boss Karen Partington announces retirement - but she's not leaving just yet

The boss at Royal Preston Hospital, Karen Partington, has announced her retirement.
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Karen Partington, who is chief executive at the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which also runs Chorley and South Ribble, said she expects to leave at the end of the year after giving 12 months' notice.

In a message to staff, she wrote: "Those of you who know me well will be aware that it has always been my intention to retire in December 2021.

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"As I have now officially handed in my notice to the chairman [Professor Ebrahim Adia], I wanted you all to know what's happening first-hand rather than via the rumour mill."

Karen Partington pictured in June last year inside the refurbished Critical Care Unit at Royal Preston Hospital (Picture: Neil Cross for JPIMedia)Karen Partington pictured in June last year inside the refurbished Critical Care Unit at Royal Preston Hospital (Picture: Neil Cross for JPIMedia)
Karen Partington pictured in June last year inside the refurbished Critical Care Unit at Royal Preston Hospital (Picture: Neil Cross for JPIMedia)

Ms Partington, who started her NHS career as a nurse and has more than four decades' experience, took on the top job in 2011.

Three years ago, she was named on a list of the 'top 50 NHS trusts' chief executives' by the Health Service Journal.

But she has faced controversy during her time in charge too, perhaps most notably over the closing of Chorley's A&E department, which attracted protests and ire.

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In Monday's note to staff, Ms Partington said she promised the board she would give a year's notice rather than a mandatory six months "in order to find my successor and I wanted to keep that commitment".

She added: "I do know that at the moment it is hard to see beyond Covid, but by the time I move on this will feel much more under control, with many more of our population safely vaccinated.

"The new CEO [chief executive officer] and board will be able to focus on all the many advantages that the Government's new hospitals programme (HIP2) infrastructure monies will bring to you as employees and even more importantly to our patients."

The trust was last given £10m from the Government to draw up plans to replace the ageing Preston Hospital.

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It later confirmed it was in talks with the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the soon-to-be-replaced Royal Lancaster Infirmary, leading to rumours a 'super' hospital could be built to cover a vast area of the county.

However, nothing has been confirmed, with a public consultation on what could be a massive shake-up of NHS services in Lancashire due to be held before a final decision is made.

Prof Adia said he will speak to medics about what sort of boss they want before the hunt to replace Ms Partington begins, and added: "Karen has been an exemplary chief executive and a great help to me personally in my first year as chairman.

"She will be a very hard act to follow.

"I am pleased that she will be with us for many more months, by which time we should be through the worst of the pandemic, with the majority of staff and the most vulnerable people in our communities vaccinated.

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“Lancashire Teaching Hospitals is a fantastic place to work and I have no doubt there will huge interest in the role when this is advertised later in the year.

"We will be engaging with our staff and stakeholders as things progress but for now our focus remains on supporting colleagues and patients during what is an exceptionally busy period for the NHS.”

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