The chief nurse at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has left in the wake of a restructuring of senior management.

Lindsey Robertson had the key role of director of patient safety and quality at the trust, which operates hospitals in Stockton and Hartlepool, and was a prominent figure during its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A series of appointments were recently made to new group executive roles following a partnership agreement signed between North Tees and the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in February, which will see both organisations working more closely together in order to improve patient outcomes.

The role of group chief nurse has been taken up by Dr Hilary Lloyd, who is based at South Tees.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Lindsey Robertson

It is understood that Mrs Robertson had not applied for the new post and has now left the trust.

A spokeswoman said she had taken the decision to leave “at a time that was right for her” and was considering her next steps professionally.

She said the group chief nurse role would be supported by director of nursing posts at both trusts that were being advertised.

Consultations have been taking place with staff at an executive level over the changes with the aim of “retaining as much talent in both trusts as possible and to transition in a safe and proactive way”, a report said.

Mrs Robertson began her career in the NHS in 1994 working in adult intensive care at Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital, later training up as a health visitor and working in the community helping families with safeguarding issues.

She returned to nursing as a general manager for out of hospital care and became deputy director of nursing at North Tees six years ago and later chief nurse.

Group chief executive Stacey Hunter praised Mrs Robertson for her “commitment and valued contribution” and said she wished her well for the future.

A new group board, which met for the first time earlier this month, has been set up to oversee the development and delivery of a joint clinical strategy. 

Both trusts will retain their own statutory boards in line with current legislation but following agreement will delegate some matters to the group board where strategic oversight and decisions are required, also described as the “joint exercising of functions”.

Meanwhile, changes have been made to the constitution of both trusts to align them as much as possible.

In 2021 NHS Improvement, the regulatory body for NHS trusts, decreed that both North and South Tees should work together in accelerating strategic integration to secure a sustainable future for key services with both signing a memorandum of understanding that year.

But there have been tensions with several non-executive directors at North Tees, who challenged the proposals, previously resigning and a subsequent NHS investigation criticising the conduct of some individuals.

Hospital bosses have been at pains to stress the two trusts, who between them employ about 15,000 people, are not merging.

They have also described practical potential benefits from closer ties for staff working across both organisations when it comes to day-to-day aspects such as car parking and internet access.