THE East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has appointed an interim chief executive as it was confirmed that Kevin McGee was departing.

In May Mr McGee was unveiled as the new boss of the Preston-based Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

But it was unclear whether he would keep responsibility for ELHT which runs the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General Teaching Hospitals.

Now Mr McGee has confirmed he is giving up that job and his post as boss of the Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

ELHT has now announced the appointment of Martin Hodgson, his deputy, as interim chief executive.

Mr McGee masterminded the recovery of the trust, which also runs the Pendle and Clitheroe community hospitals, from special measures after his appointment in 2014.

He said at his last board meeting on Wednesday: “It has been an honour and a privilege to be chief executive of this trust. Our hope as leaders is always that we leave somewhere in better shape than we found it and I am immensely proud of the organisation as a whole. There are brilliantly skilled people here led by an outstanding board with massive experience.”

Russ McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patients Voice Group, said: “I am very sorry to see Mr McGee go.

“He masterminded the recovery of the trust from failing and in special measures into being a success.

“He is liked by staff and patients and has led from the front.”

Mr McGee’s new post covers the Royal Preston, Chorley and South Ribble hospitals.

Chairman of ELHT Professor Eileen Fairhurst said: “I am delighted to announce that Martin Hodgson has been appointed. He has my full support and confidence and his leadership and expertise will ensure the stability of the trust, as well as a smooth handover from Kevin for our colleagues, patients and partners."

Mr Hodgson joined ELHT in 2009 from Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and has been deputy chief executive since November 2019.

He said: “I am both honoured and privileged. In the past 18 months we have been hit harder than most other areas by the pandemic and colleagues have responded in the most magnificent way. ”