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Former Cambridgeshire Combined Authority boss lands key NHS role

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The career trajectory of Eileen Milner, the short lived former £200,000-year chief executive of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) has taken a new turn with her appointment to a major NHS role back in Cambridgeshire.

Ms Milner, who last year landed two posts in Bradford following her departure after just eight months from CAPCA – with a £169,000 pay off – is to become interim chair of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.

She will succeed Julie Spence – the Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire and a former chief constable -who has stepped down after nine years, the maximum amount of time she could serve in the post.

Her appointment is for six months while the trust recruits a permanent chair.

But Ms Milner has also relinquished one of the two positions – chair of council at council at Bradford University, a post she had held since August of last year.

A university spokesperson said: “Eileen Milner, after much careful consideration over a period of time and with great regret, has advised that she will be standing down from the role of chair of council.

“Eileen joined the council at the start of the 2022/23 academic year replacing Baroness Ann Taylor as chair of council.

“Shortly after Eileen first accepted the role she was asked by the Department for Education and Bradford and District Council, to take on responsibility for bringing into being a Children and Families Trust for Bradford and District. This was achieved on 1st April this year and Eileen now chairs this new organisation.”

Ms Milner said: “After much consideration, given this key commitment to the city and district, together with other significant professional and personal commitments, I feel that I am unable to give the university all of the time and attention that it both needs and deserves.

“It is better to step aside to give someone else the opportunity to take on the role.

“I will continue to watch from afar the progress of the institution which I have been so proud to be associated with.”

After she was appointed last year to the university role, Ms Milner said: “I was attracted to the role because I care deeply about education and its power to develop the knowledge and skills people need to succeed in life and to contribute to society.

“The University of Bradford is truly committed to social inclusion, social mobility and making a positive impact locally and globally through its research and knowledge transfer partnerships.”

Ironically on the influential LinkedIn social media site, Ms Milner fails to mention her time at CAPCA.

Ironically on the influential LinkedIn social media site, Ms Milner fails to mention her time at CAPCA.

At the time of her appointment at Bradford University, vice-chancellor, Professor Shirley Congdon said: “Following a national search we are delighted to have appointed Eileen Milner as our new chair of council.

“This is an important position in our university structure, so it was vital we found someone with the breadth of knowledge and experience required.

“Eileen brings with her an impressive record of success in education and skills and her values led approach and commitment to social inclusion chime with our own.

Her new role is with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) which employs nearly 4,500 people and delivers many of the services that are provided outside of hospital and in the community.

These include physical and mental health, and specialist services, supporting a population of just under a million people. Its biggest bases are at the Cavell Centre, Peterborough, and Fulbourn Hospital, Cambridge, but their staff are based in more than 50 locations

Dr Johnson said the Combined Authority said the LTCP had received “positive feedback” from a wide range of transport bodies but “we just need to make sure that all the alignment is right before we get to a full discussion”.

Mayor Dr Nik Johnson

Lead governor Andrea Hill said: “Eileen’s leadership and experience will be vital to the trust while we seek a successor to Julie Spence, and we look forward to working with her.”

Ms Milner, who joined the trust as a non-executive director in September last year, said: “I am very excited to take up this role.  I have a long-standing interesting in mental and community health and I am delighted and honoured to be associated with CPFT.”

During a career which has spanned the public and private sectors, Ms Milner was formerly the chief operating officer of the Care Quality Commission and led work across the NHS on whistleblowing and Freedom To Speak Up.

While chief executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency, she was responsible for one of the largest budgets in UK public service as well as the regulation of academies and colleges in England.

A Cambridgeshire resident for more than 25 years, she remains chair of Bradford Children and Families Trust and on the board of Ofqual, the regulator of qualifications in England.

Ironically on the influential LinkedIn social media site, Ms Milner fails to mention her time at CAPCA.

Until 2021, she was chief executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency and had previously been executive director at the Care Quality Commission.

However, her time at CAPCA ended after a breakdown in communications with Mayor Dr Nik Johnson and amidst a swirling fog of allegations and counter claims that led to a number of inquiries, some of which remain ongoing.

Ms Milner, a former civil servant, was obliged to receive clearance from the Government’s business appointments committee before becoming chief executive of CAPCA.

Former civil servants taking up outside appointments must go through the advisory committee “to protect the integrity of the government”.

Ms Milner was not only the only former chief executive of CAPCA to leave prematurely: under the previous mayor, James Palmer, his Martin Whiteley was awarded a severance payment of £94,500 following a clash over policy and budget.

Mt Whiteley was followed by interim officers Kim Sawyer and John Hill.

And finance officer Karl Fenlon was sacked by Palmer when he revealed that budget projections were completely unachievable, something that Mayor Palmer denied, saying the statements were ‘misleading’, but it was later revealed that Fenlon had been correct.

However, CAPCA has moved into a new and revitalised era and this month Rob Bridge took the helm as chief executive.

Rob Bridge

New permanent chief executive Rob Bridge.

Mr Bridge was formerly chief executive of North Northamptonshire Council, a unitary council which came into existence in 2021.

A Cambridgeshire resident, he has overseen the successful implementation of a wide range of projects and initiatives, including the establishment of North Northamptonshire Council as a new unitary authority.

He was previously chief executive of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council but prior to that he had spent eight years as corporate director and chief finance officer at Fenland District Council.

CAPCA is looking forward to his time in office.

“At Fenland he also led on regeneration, external investment and transformation and is passionate about improving public services and the place where people live,” said a CAPCA spokesperson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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