A CHIEF executive brought in to turn around the fortunes of a struggling hospital has been criticised after her previous trust was branded failing by inspectors.

Gillian Fairfield has been on secondment at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust since April.

However the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has awarded the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, where Ms Fairfield came from, an inadequate overall rating.

The trust's leadership and safety were also found to be inadequate and its responsiveness and effectiveness required improvement.

However the trust was praised and given a good rating for caring.

CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals Ellen Armistead said yesterday inspectors had serious concerns about the systems and procedures in place to keep people safe and free from harm at the Pennine trust.

She said: “The trust did not have a robust understanding of its key risks at departmental, divisional or board level.

“In a number of services including A&E, maternity, children’s and critical care, key risks were not recognised, escalated or mitigated effectively.”

There was surprise earlier this year when it was revealed Ms Fairfield would be joining Brighton on a temporary basis because there had been no indication the then interim chief executive Amanda Fadero would be stepping down after less than three months in the post.

Unions criticised the move, saying the changes at the top created instability at a trust which was already struggling with meeting waiting time targets, A&E delays and financial worries.

Brighton had its own CQC inspection in April and the results of this, due to be published this summer, are expected to be poor.

The CQC gave Brighton a warning in June it needed to make urgent improvements by the end of this month or risk losing some services or going into special measures.

GMB regional officer Gary Palmer said yesterday: “Appointing Gillian Fairfield as an interim chief executive for a trust already facing serious organisational and operational issues and in desperate need of a long term steadying hand was always a mistake."