Head of Camden mental health provider announces retirement

Wendy Wallace, chief executive of Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, will retire next spring

Wendy Wallace, chief executive of Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, will retire next spring - Credit: Archant

The head of Camden’s main mental health provider has announced she is to retire in spring, to spend more time with her husband.

Wendy Wallace is to end what will be more than a decade as chief executive of Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I) – a stint which makes her one of the longest serving heads in the NHS.

She joined the NHS in 1979 and has worked both as a clinical psychologist and as a manager. She joined C&I as a director in 2002, becoming chief executive in 2005.

Announcing her retirement at the C&I board meeting on Thursday (September 24), she said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my 10 years at the head of a tremendous organisation with so many outstanding clinical and managerial colleagues that I have had the privilege of working with. I’m proud of the unwavering commitment of staff to improve the lives of our service users in what is a diverse and challenging area of the Capital.

“My husband retired last year and we have always planned that I would join him one or two years later. He has been gently badgering me to step down so we can do more things together.

“I will certainly miss so many valued colleagues, service users and friends, but will not be leaving until the spring of 2016 and will certainly not be slowing down.”

Ms Wallace’s final few months will see the trust subjected to a vital inspection carried out by government watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

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It follows a CQC inspection last year in which the trust was criticised over some aspects of patient safety. It led councillors in Camden to this month set up a mental health panel specifically to scrutinise C&I care.

Ms Wallace’s time at C&I has also been marked in recent years by a struggle to cope with dwindling resources. A planned cut in beds was followed by what the trust said was an “unexpected surge” in demand from new patients. It led to some residents seeking a bed being sent miles out of the area for care, and one case where a patient asking for a bed was sent home. The patient, Peter Holboll, went on to kill his mother at his home in Kentish Town just days later.

Leisha Fullick, C&I chair, praised Ms Wallace’s stewardship during the challenging times, saying: “Under Wendy’s leadership this Trust has developed an established reputation for innovative and far reaching work in the mental health field. She played the lead role in us becoming the first NHS Care Trust to gain Foundation Trust status in 2008.

“Whatever the challenges, she has demonstrated an unswerving commitment to developing and improving the range and quality of services that are available for people with mental ill health. We shall immediately begin the task of finding someone of Wendy’s calibre to take over the leadership of the Trust in the spring of next year.”