Pair quit over hospital spending row
NEW cracks have appeared in the management of Suffolk's health service after two directors quit their posts in a row over a hospital's spending.The high-profile resignations over the spending at Ipswich Hospital come at a time when Felixstowe General Hospital is facing the axe as part of desperate moves to save £18million by next Tuesday.
NEW cracks have appeared in the management of Suffolk's health service after two directors quit their posts in a row over a hospital's spending.
The high-profile resignations over the spending at Ipswich Hospital come at a time when Felixstowe General Hospital is facing the axe as part of desperate moves to save £18million by next Tuesday.
The move has provoked outrage and coincides with Elizabeth Aldous and Stephanie Thew walking out as non-executive directors of Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust in the spending row.
Mrs Aldous and Mrs Thew resigned their posts after claiming they were not allowed to chase up a debt owed to the trust by Ipswich Hospital.
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Primary care trusts give the hospital money to treat patients from their area, but the pair said it was not clear what the trust's funding was being spent on and believed it was owed money by the hospital.
The pair, both members of the trust's audit committee, which keeps a check on spending, said senior members of its board would not support them in chasing up outstanding payments.
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They issued a joint statement, which said: “Our concern has always been that significant funds - up to £1.7m - had been paid from primary care trust funds which had not been shown to have been spent upon the patients who live in the central Suffolk area.
“We have always considered and continue to believe that our responsibility as audit committee members was to probe into this issue until there was a satisfactory outcome for the patients in our area.
“That did not happen. We do not consider that an issue such as this should have been disregarded for the sake of expediency.”
Initially Mrs Thew and Mrs Aldous only wanted to resign from the audit committee, but Pat Potter, acting chairman of the board, would not accept their resignation and asked them to withdraw their decision.
Mrs Thew and Mrs Aldous said: “In view of the fact our resignation from the audit committee was not accepted, very regretfully we then also submitted our resignation from the board.”
Martyn Hanlon, A fellow audit committee member and non-executive director, also resigned from the trust last month to take up a position on the board of a commercial private sector company.
But Mrs Potter said she was confident that there was no debt owed to the trust by Ipswich Hospital.
She added the concerns of Mrs Thew and Mrs Aldous had been thoroughly investigated by the audit commission and the East Suffolk Primary Care Trust's own joint audit committee, who found no wrong-doing.
“The concerns of the audit committee members focused on payment for treatment and care provided by the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust,” said Mrs Potter.
“Investigations have shown that care was provided and have highlighted how we can work together to improve how we commission health care and gather information.
“The Board of Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust recognise that members of the Central Suffolk Audit Committee acted with integrity in pursuing this matter, but believe this issue is now resolved.
“The Norfolk Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority support our decision in this matter.”
She added that three new non-executive directors were due to be appointed soon.
Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, said: “This issue has been resolved and we have a strong working relationship with Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts.”