Under-fire NHS hospitals chief could step down ‘within weeks’

Former chief executive Julia Squire
Former chief executive Julia Squire
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THE chairman of the beleaguered Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust could stand down in the wake of the resignation of chief executive, Julia Squire.

The Yorkshire Post understands that a decision on the future of Ed Anderson, the former Leeds Bradford airport boss who joined in 2009, will be made within weeks.

Last night the leader of Wakefield Council called for the board at the debt-ridden trust to also resign in the wake of a series of “systematic failures”.

Peter Box said that Ms Squire had been made a scapegoat and her resignation was not sufficient to tackle “longstanding and deep rooted problems”. The trust is facing a deficit of £20m and has undergone a barrage of criticism following a number of high profile problems.

Most recent controversy involved the closure overnight of the new A&E ward at Pontefract due to staff shortages and a £4.5m payout to a senior doctor for sexual and racial discrimination.

Earlier this week a proposal to bring in Army medics at Pontefract to cover the A&E staff shortage was ruled out following criticism of the plan from patients and MPs. The ward has been closed overnight since November 1.

Coun Box said: “Responsibility for the failures of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust cannot just be laid at the door of one person.

“Whilst it was right that the chief executive should stand down she has clearly been made a scapegoat.

“Her resignation is not enough to tackle the longstanding and deep rooted problems of the Trust.

“The Board has collective responsibility for the systematic failures which have occurred, and they must be accountable for what has gone on.

“The mismanagement of the trust cannot be allowed to continue and further action is needed before we can begin to have any faith in those responsible for the future management of the district’s hospital services.”

On Thursday the trust announced that Ms Squire was stepping down after five years to take up a new opportunity with the NHS Confederation.

She will be replaced by Stephen Eames, chief executive of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, who will start in March in an interim role.

Tracey McErlain-Burns will act as interim chief executive until Mr Eames takes up his new role.

Earlier this month an independent review by accountants Ernst and Young uncovered significant shortfalls in the trust’s £31m savings programme.

The trust, which moved into new private finance initiative hospitals in Wakefield and Pontefract a year ago and also runs Dewsbury’s hospital, also faces pressures from increasing demand, leaving it with an estimated £19.7m deficit in 2011-12.

A spokesman for the trust said: “We continue to review the cost improvement programme for the current year and develop a plan for delivering safe and sustainable efficiencies for 2012/13.

“We are committed to working even more closely with our commissioners and the SHA to find sustainable solutions and work is already taking place with them to develop a plan for financial recovery.

“It is very important to us that we continue to provide safe, effective services to local people and to do this we need to work harder still to turn around our difficult financial position.”

Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper, said: “Local people have been calling for some time for outside help to deal with the problems at Mid Yorkshire Trust including the urgent need to re-open A&E in Pontefract.

“I hope the new management will recognise the importance of working with local people and respecting the promises that were made on services at Pontefract.

“With over 12,000 people so far signing the petition to re-open the A&E overnight, we will keep up the pressure to make sure this happens.”