EAST Lancashire Hospital Trust’s chief executive Kevin McGee is set to take up a similar part-time role at a trust currently the subject of a poisoning probe.

Mr McGee will take on the interim role at the Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, replacing the retiring chief executive Wendy Swift.

The Blackpool trust is at the centre of a major police investigation into the suspected poisoning of patients on the stroke unit.

In November, police were contacted by the hospital after concerns were raised about the care provided to some patients, which related to alleged mistreatment and neglect on the stroke unit in November 2018. Seven people have been arrested as part of the investigation.

The trust’s chairman Pearse Butler said Ms Smith’s retirement and that of director of nursing Marie Thompson were purely for personal reasons.

Mr McGee’s new role will start on May 1 for the equivalent of three days per week. During this time he will remain as accountable officer for ELHT and will focus on the integrated care partnership for Pennine Lancashire ­— Together a Healthier Future.

Mr McGee said: "I am looking forward to this new challenge and hope to make a positive contribution to Blackpool Teaching Hospitals.

“I have no doubt they will be successful in recruiting a new, substantive chief executive who will lead the trust to even bigger and better things.

“I am able to accept this interim appointment because of the strength and stability of the board at East Lancashire Hospitals. I’d like to thank all the staff there for the wonderful support they have always given me.”

Medical director Prof Damian Riley will be acting chief executive of ELHT for the same period and he will take day to day charge of the trust. Dr Ian Stanley will be acting medical director.

Professor Eileen Fairhurst, chairman of ELHT, said: “Kevin is an experienced, well respected and successful chief executive and this invitation from Blackpool reflects his standing in Lancashire and beyond.

“He will not be leaving East Lancashire Hospitals and will return in the winter. Until then, we are fortunate to have such talent in our executive team – indeed throughout the Trust – and I have every confidence in Professor Riley.”

The Blackpool Trust’s substantive chief executive post will be advertised nationally in the next few weeks.

Mr Butler said: “We recognise it may take some time to fill the chief executive post and then get the candidate in post so we have decided to secure an interim chief executive.

“Kevin is an experienced, well respected and successful Chief Executive and will be with us for up to six months while we recruit to the post full time.

“He will remain chief executive and accountable officer for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust during this time and I am grateful to the chairman and board of East Lancashire for releasing him.’’