A new group chief executive who will oversee the South Tees and North Tees and Hartlepool NHS hospital trusts is to start work in February.

Stacey Hunter was recently confirmed in the post after an “extensive” recruitment process and is to move from Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust where she has been CEO for the past three years.

Bosses have not confirmed her exact salary, but ads for the post published in August described how the successful candidate would earn between £100,000 and £200,000 a year.

A search had entailed for an “experienced, inclusive and high-calibre individual” to lead a new group model being drawn up for the two Teesside trusts, who between them have an annual budget of about £1.2bn and more than 15,000 employees.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Stacey Hunter, who is the new group chief executive heading up the North and South Tees NHS hospital trusts

Ms Hunter began her career in 1990 as a nurse in Hull and Leeds, subsequently taking on various management roles in the NHS and also worked for Airedale NHS Foundation Trust in West Yorkshire where she was chief operating officer in a six-year spell.

Joint chairman Professor Derek Bell said of the new appointment: “This is a really important move forward for our group model. 

“To have a single leadership supporting the challenges and opportunities across our geography will pay dividends for our patients and communities, and of course our staff.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton, part of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, left, and right, The James Cook University Hospital, part of the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. No attribution required. Free f

“A united single voice that will work to represent our ambition for this region has been long sought. 

“We are absolutely delighted that Stacey will take on that role as our CEO working to support and serve our populations.”

The Salisbury trust said Ms Hunter was an “inspirational” chief executive and praised her commitment to patient care and improving the experience of staff.

In January this year the North and South Tees trusts agreed to form a hospital group in order to strengthen the way the two organisations work together.

It has been stressed that the two trusts are not merging, with each remaining as a statutory organisation in their own right.

Two years ago NHS Improvement, the regulatory body for NHS trusts, decreed that both North and South Tees should work together in accelerating strategic integration in a bid to secure a sustainable future for key services. 

But there have been tensions with several non-executive directors at North Tees hospitals who challenged the proposals resigning.