CONCERNS have been raised after the head of a Bradford NHS Trust announced in the midst of the coronavirus crisis that he is to leave his position.

Brent Kilmurray, Chief Executive of the Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, took up the role in 2018, but is to move to pastures new when he becomes head of the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust in June.

It's understood this is closer to where Mr Kilmurray and his family live and he has been commuting to his position in Bradford.

In a statement, Trust chair Cathy Elliott, said: “On behalf of the Trust’s Board we would like to thank Brent for his leadership of the Trust, especially in driving quality improvement and innovative practice.

"We will be sad to see him move on, though appreciate his personal reasons to work closer to home.

"We welcome his support already, in helping to find his successor and we wish him well in his future role.”

Mr Kilmurray said: "It’s been a great team to work with and whilst I’m delighted to be returning to the north east and I’m excited about my new role, I’m sorry to be leaving the Trust.

"I’m confident that with the strong leadership team and Board, and its fantastic and very committed staff, that the Trust will continue to build on these achievements.”

A staff member from the Trust, who wished to remain anonymous, shared their concerns with the Telegraph & Argus regarding the timing of the announcement.

They said: "Normally, we would be sad to see someone go and fully accept that people are allowed to change their minds and are free to work wherever they please.

"No, the issue here is that the chief exec of an NHS Trust is deciding to move on *now* in this unprecedented time.

"For our chief exec to leave at this time, is seemingly tone-deaf."

They also raised concern that the Trust could be facing a leadership issue "at a time where absolutely need continuity."

The staff member said no-one is begrudging the move, but "it's him doing it right at this time" and there was a feeling it should be delayed until the situation is in hand.

Natalie Ratcliffe, from Unison, said she was unsure of the reasons, but said: "Our members need some stability at this difficult time and really, our members need a leader that can steer them through the bad times.

"I fear that the recruitment process might be a little bit difficult given the pandemic."

She added: "We need some clear leadership at this time."

In an official statement announcing Mr Kilmurray's departure, a spokesperson said he will "continue to lead the Trust, as part of the district-wide support for staff, service users, and local communities during the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst ensuring that as many services remain available to the public."

When the concerns regarding the announcement were put to the the Trust, a spokesperson said: “We will be confirming the interim chief executive shortly, who will work with Trust’s existing executive leadership team and Board from the end of June when Brent Kilmurray leaves the Trust. Work to recruit Brent’s successor is already underway to make a substantive appointment to the role.”