NSFT boss facing inquiry into false university qualifications
An inquiry into the qualifications held by the incoming chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has begun after it was revealed that he did not hold the degree that he was stating to have obtained.
Mason Fitzgerald attended the University of Georgia in the US and obtained a Master of Laws (LLM) according to annual reports that were submitted to parliament. However, his university has stated that he completed two semesters but never graduated.
The falsely stated qualification was included on at least three parliamentary reports sent off by NSFT, a mental health trust, and the East London Foundation Trust where Mr Fitzgerald had previously worked. The degree was also stated on his LinkedIn profile.
Former NHS trust chairman, Roy Lilley, described the incident as “very embarrassing”, “very disappointing”, and “very stupid”.
Mr Fitzgerald is currently the deputy chief executive of NSFT, a trust which is currently rated as ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). He is due to become chief executive in April, a position which will result in him overseeing the £260m annual budget.
In 2015, NSFT was the first mental health trust to be placed in special measures. The CQC rated it ‘inadequate’ on three separate occasions. In January, it was noted that whilst NSFT had made notable improvements, poor risk management had led to a number of patients self-harming and waiting too long for assessment.
Kate Smith, a solicitor in the medical negligence team at Ashtons Legal, comments: “This is shocking to read and I feel extreme empathy for families who I have represented on claims against the NSFT who may have struggled with responses they have received from the trust before. It does raise the question of honesty and integrity within the trust if this is not being displayed from those at the top. It is pleasing to read a full investigation into this is being carried out and I hope this allows the trust to truly reflect.”
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