Whipps Cross Hospital boss quits after 18 months

Chief executive of Whipps Cross, Ralph Coulbeck, has decided to take a “career break”

By Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

Ralph Coulbeck (credit: Barts Health NHS Trust)

The chief executive of Whipps Cross Hospital has announced he will leave his role, only 18 months after being permanently appointed.

Hospital trust Barts Health – which runs Whipps Cross – recently announced Ralph Coulbeck had decided to take a “career break” but said he would remain in post until a replacement is found.

In a statement announcing his departure, Ralph said he is “sorry to be leaving” his role and thanked hospital staff for their “amazing hard work and support” during his tenure.

He wrote: “I am proud of how we have navigated a range of different pressures and challenges while focusing on our patients and revitalising our leadership team.

“We have also made progress for the longer term through the redevelopment programme and the recently agreed investment in a new academic centre.

“I am sorry to be leaving my role but I do so knowing that the hospital has the foundations in place for future success. The people at Whipps Cross make it a special place to work and it has been a privilege to be a part of this.”

A spokesperson for the hospital declined to comment when asked why he had stepped down so soon after his permanent appointment.

They said that his departure is “not connected” to the recent government’s announcement that a new hospital building would not be funded until “after 2025”.

Shane DeGaris, group chief executive for Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “Ralph has done a fantastic job in steering Whipps Cross through the recovery period after the pandemic and in preparing the hospital for the challenges of the future.

“He is an extremely valued member of the group leadership team and has played an important part in our improvement journey, both in this role and previously as our group director of strategy. I will personally miss his insight and wisdom.

“However, I respect his decision to take a career break and on behalf of all of us wish him all the best for the future.”

Ralph became permanent chief executive officer in June 2022, after filling the role on an interim basis for seven months.

He replaced previous chief executive officer Alan Gurney, who resigned in November 2021 after four and a half years but had been on sick leave “for some time” when he stepped down.