Former inspector of police appointed mental health boss

Zoë Billingham

Zoë Billingham has been appointed as the next Chair of NHS mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk - Credit: Geoff Pugh

The author of a report on how police abuse their positions for sexual purposes has been appointed as chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) - the body providing mental health care in the counties. 

Zoë Billingham, who has 12 years’ experience of making improvements in organisations through her work in Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services in England and Wales, will join the trust next month. 

In 2019, Ms Billingham authored a report called ‘Shining a light on betrayal’.

Her report has received renewed attention in light of the murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of Met police officer Wayne Couzens. 

Sarah Everard, who disappeared in Clapham on March 3.

Sarah Everard was murdered by Met police officer Wayne Couzens in March of this year. - Credit: Metropolitan Police

Speaking on the Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast this week, Ms Billingham said: “My view is we can’t abide by the narrative that this was a one-off, this was a rarity.

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“We need to treat this as though it might happen again. In fact, I think police systems are such that it could still happen again.” 

Ms Billingham, who has long been an advocate for improving the treatment of people who have mental health illness, lives in Suffolk and was born in Norfolk.

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She said of her appointment: “I am incredibly excited to have been chosen to be chair. 

“Everyone I’ve spoken to, internally and externally, has told me that the trust is an improving organisation, led with compassion. Your hard work is shining through.

“For my part, I am keen to work with and listen very hard to you and those with lived experience, as your collective insight will help make even better services.”

Ann Radmore, regional director of the NHS in the East of England, said: “Zoe’s local knowledge, professional background and strong interest in advocating for improved services for patients with mental health conditions, make her an excellent fit with NSFT and its staff.

“I look forward to working with her in the months and years to come.”

Marie Gabriel CBE, chair of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) Picture: NSFT

Marie Gabriel, current chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) - Credit: Archant

The NSFT’s current chair Marie Gabriel has been with the Trust since January 2018 and will remain so until the end of December.

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