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A joint Chair has been appointed following last month’s announcement that ²gether NHS Foundation Trust and Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust are working on proposals to  integrate as a single organisation.

Ingrid Barker was chosen following a formal selection process, which included a series of discussion groups involving a broad range of clinical and non-clinical representatives from both Trusts, as well as patients, service users and carers.

The discussion groups were then followed by a formal interview with members of ²gether’s Council of Governors alongside independent advisors. Their decision has also been ratified by the full Council of Governors as the appointing body.

Ingrid will take up her position from January 2018, after which a business case will be developed with a view to formally joining the two organisations from October 2018.

Ingrid said: “I am delighted to have been selected as Joint Chair of two Trusts who are providing such high quality services to the people of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. The coming months and years will be momentous, as we work to combine our experience, expertise and resources, in order to enhance the services we provide to our local communities. I look forward to working with colleagues across both organisations, together with our many partners, as we progress our proposals.”

²gether’s Lead Governor, Rob Blagden, said: “This is an exciting time for  ²gether and Gloucestershire Care Services, and selecting the right candidate for the position of Joint Chair was extremely important. Our Council was clear that we would only appoint if our candidate was the best person to lead us in the months and years ahead, and we are confident that Ingrid is fitting for the role. Ingrid brings a wealth of local knowledge and experience combined with a passion to improve health outcomes for our patients.”

Nikki Richardson, Senior Independent Director for ²gether, added: “I would like to congratulate Ingrid, who has a huge amount of experience, both locally and nationally within the NHS. Her strong leadership will be vital as we progress our plans for integrating mental health, learning disability and physical health services, and work together to make services more seamless for our communities.”

Ingrid Barker is currently Chair of Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust – a position she has held since April 2011. She was previously a Non Executive Director on the Board of NHS Gloucestershire for five years. She is a Trustee and board member for NHS Providers, elected to represent the Community Trusts across the country. Ingrid has undertaken national policy and service development roles through the Centre for Mental Health Services Development.  She was Deputy Chief Executive of an NHS Trust in Surrey and led Croydon Mental Health Unit as Unit General Manager, transforming institutional services to community provision.  A qualified social worker, Ingrid established a service for young homeless people in Central London and was Regional Director of MIND.  She also led the creation of the first mental health Patients Councils and Advocacy projects in Britain.

She has lived in Gloucestershire with her family since 2002 and during that time has served as Chair and as a Governor for Ribston Hall High School in Gloucester. She is currently a Governor of Hartpury College.

²gether and Gloucestershire Care Services announced plans to appoint a Joint Chair and Joint Chief Executive last month. The position of Joint Chair was ring fenced to the sitting Chairs of both Trusts. Ruth FitzJohn, who is currently Chair of ²gether, announced her decision to retire at the end of 2017 earlier this year.

Selection of the Joint Chief Executive will take place during November and the Joint Chief Executive will also take up position in January 2018.

A full programme of engagement will then begin with staff and partners about the next steps. Both Trusts will remain separate legal entities with independent Boards until a full business case is completed and necessary approvals are received.