Anger as health bosses reappointed

BOSSES of east Suffolk's crisis-hit health service have been reappointed to their posts, despite the NHS locally being millions of pounds in debt.The 11 non-executive directors of primary care trusts (PCTs) in east Suffolk, who this week rubber-stamped hospital closures, have been given the go-ahead to continue in their roles by the government.

BOSSES of east Suffolk's crisis-hit health service have been reappointed to their posts, despite the NHS locally being millions of pounds in debt.

The 11 non-executive directors of primary care trusts (PCTs) in east Suffolk, who this week rubber-stamped hospital closures, have been given the go-ahead to continue in their roles by the government.

The announcement has sparked anger among some critics who opposed recent cutbacks, which included reductions in bed numbers at Aldeburgh Hospital, the loss of mental health services and the closure of four day-hospitals.

But one director reappointed to her role has argued now is not the time for wholesale changes and called for a period of greater stability, where possible.


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Eileen Colvill, of Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust, pointed to government plans to merge the county's PCTs in the near future, meaning the region's health system already faces being reorganised.

And Carole Taylor-Brown, overall chief executive of the PCTs, said: “The NHS Appointments Commission externally advertises the appointment of non-executive directors.

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”In appropriate circumstances, the appointment commission may extend these appointments. Given the current consultation on proposals to reconfigure our PCTs, it's important to maintain continuity.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman added: “The directors have only been reappointed on a temporary basis because we're currently consulting over the future of the health service.

”We don't want to waste money going through a full scale reappraisal when in four month's time we're going to have a different picture entirely.”

But Suffolk Coastal Tory MP John Gummer believes the directors should stand down, despite having their terms extended by the NHS Appointments Commission just days ago.

He said: “All East Suffolk PCT non-executive directors and the chairman have been re-appointed, despite having presided over huge debts which have resulted in proposals to decimate valuable community facilities. The reappointments were slipped out on January 20 and MPs were notified four days later.

“In private business, shareholders would not re-appoint directors of failing businesses.

“I would hope that these non-executive directors reconsider their positions and resign rather than inflict swingeing cuts in the health care of our county.”

Fellow Tory MP David Ruffley, who represents Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and Needham Market, said: “Some but not all of the reappointed directors should look at their own conscience and ask whether over the last few years they couldn't have done a better job overseeing the financial management in the NHS.

“We were continually told the deficit would be paid off painlessly but this turned out to be a complete load of rubbish.”

Felixstowe's Bartlet Hospital and the Hartismere Hospital, in Eye, were two of the biggest casualties of the cuts, announced on Wednesday.

Peter Mellor, of Save Our Felixstowe Hospitals, was among those fighting the closure of the Bartlet.

Reacting to the reappointment of the directors, he said: “I think it was inevitable.

“It was clearly undemocratic and didn't reflect to any extent their performance and willingness to represent the public's view.

“The PCTs has to fill its seats and because they still haven't merged with the other PCTs they've got more seats than they should have.

“It's difficult to see whether the reorganisation will be better or worse. But if they are going to do it they should get on with it.”

Jenny Brabazon, spokeswoman for the Suffolk Coastal Patient and Public Involvement Forum, said she understood the reasons for keeping faith with the current directors.

She said: “I think the problem is this year if they're not going to reappoint them they would only be able to offer the roles with any certainty for a few months until the restructuring happens.

“By the time they've gone through the screening and criminal record bureau processes that would perhaps take a couple of months so they would effectively be inviting people to take up the role for a short period.

”In some ways it is frustrating but I don't think any non-executive directors could stop the cart and horses that is health secretary Patricia Hewitt.”

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