The Imperial College Healthcare Trust, which runs five London hospitals including St Mary’s and Charing Cross. has announced the appointment of a new Chief Executive. High profile Australian healthcare administrator Dr Tracey Batten will take up the position at the start of April. This follows the resignation last October of Mark Davies, who was widely credited with making large improvements to the Trust’s financial situation. The post of interim Chief Executive has since been jointly held by former medical director Professor Nick Cheshire and former chief financial officer Bill Shields.

Dr Batten attained a medical doctorate from the University of Melbourne. She practiced medicine at both the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Bart’s Hospital London. She later gained Master’s degrees in Healthcare Management and Business Administration from the University of New South Wales and Harvard. She has extensive experience of running large medical organisations –having been head of dental services in the Australian state of Victoria, later moving on to run the Eastern Health group of hospitals. Her latest position was Chief Executive of St Vincent’s Health Australia. With some 16,000 staff and a budget of £1 billion, it is the largest non-for-profit healthcare and research organisation in the country. A recent survey showed that, during her tenure, over two thirds of St Vincent’s staff agreed that it was “a truly great place to work”.

Sir Richard Sykes, chairman of the Trust, said that the Trust had “conducted an exhaustive, global search for our new chief executive” and that he was confident that it had “found the kind of aspirational and inspirational leader we were looking for”. He praised Br Batten abilities, saying: “She has a strong record of clinical and managerial leadership and the organisational transformation she achieved at St Vincent’s Health was particularly impressive. I have always felt that clinicians should be closely involved in the management and leadership of NHS Trusts but the best clinical leadership comes from those with both clinical and managerial skills and experience. Tracey Batten is such a leader.”

This was a view shared by Professor Dermot Kelleher, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London, who said that he believed that “Tracey Batten will bring an outstanding record of professional achievement, exceptional leadership skills and new perspectives to this crucial job”.

Dr Batten will lead the Trust at a time of change as it completes its application to become a Foundation Trust. This will give it autonomy from the Department of Health, giving members of the Trust greater freedom in determining its policy.

Dr Batten indicated that she was up to the new job, saying: “The prospect of leading one of England’s largest and most prestigious NHS Trusts is both an honour and an exciting challenge. I hope to bring fresh ideas from another public health system and to help Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust complete its journey towards Foundation Trust status. I am deeply committed to ensuring not only the very best clinical outcomes for patients but that their wider experience of the healthcare system is the very best too. I look forward to meeting my new colleagues and our many patients in the near future.”