Suffolk/Norfolk: Health boss e-mails staff to end rumours

THE boss of Suffolk’s mental health trust has sent an e-mail to thousands of members of staff to deny rumours about his personal life.

In the memo sent to staff at the Norfolk and Suffolk Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and seen by the East Anglian Daily Times, chief executive Aidan Thomas states he wants to “put the record straight”.

It comes just two weeks after the trust announced they were axeing about 500 jobs across both counties – equating to 177 posts in Suffolk with more at risk in Waveney, which is part of the Norfolk pool.

In the letter Mr Thomas says: “Can I say from the start that some of the stories I have heard have been quite entertaining and have cast me in a role more akin to EastEnders than to running an NHS trust.

“However, unlike Den Watts, my life is a bit more mundane than you might think.”

He explains he has been married to his wife for 24 years, having just returned from a holiday to Paris together to start planning a family Christmas.

Admitting his decision to remain living in Essex while working in Norwich at trust headquarters “has been a strain”, Mr Thomas said: “Sorry to disappoint those whose minds run wild about what I might be getting up to while I’m away from home – I’m generally on the phone to my wife, answering e-mails or reading meeting papers.

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“Sometimes my fellow executive team members take pity on me and we go out for a curry or comedy night, but for the most part it’s just plain boring.

“Earlier this year, we went to the Cromer End of the Pier show, and believe me that’s been pretty much the highlight of my overnight stays.

“Although initially I thought that it was better to ignore these rumours, they have continued and are also very unfair and hurtful to the other staff mentioned and to my family. Over the last few months the rumours seem to have been getting more and more bizarre, and so I have now decided to say enough is enough.”

Jeff Keighley, UNISON’s representative for mental health, said the union would condemn the spreading of “unsubstantiated rumours”.

He added: “If he [Mr Thomas] has done nothing, why should he feel bad about putting something out.

“It doesn’t hurt to quash a rumour. We are a trade union and if someone I was representing said someone had been spreading rumours about them I would advise it amounts to bullying and harassment.”

Mr Thomas added: “Since I sent my letter to staff, I have been overwhelmed with scores of comments from colleagues who appreciate the stand I am making against malicious rumours, and I’d really like to thank them for their support. I wish I’d acted sooner to prevent rumours getting out of hand, as they have been causing unnecessary stress for the other people who have been affected.”

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