Debt blame hospital boss axed AGAIN

PUBLISHED: 17:13 22 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:34 25 August 2010

A HOSPITAL chief executive who racked up millions of pounds of debt at a nearby hospital has been sacked from another Trust after a report claimed it was heading for 'corporate failure'.

A HOSPITAL chief executive who racked up millions of pounds of debt at a nearby hospital has been sacked from another Trust after a report claimed it was heading for "corporate failure".

John Watkinson, former boss of Bromley Hospitals Trust (BHT) was dismissed from the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) last Friday after an independent review concluded it had serious concerns about the way it was being managed.

This latest investigation comes after a report last October blamed him for saddling BHT with £87 million of debt while working as the chief executive between May 2003 and December 2006, where he was on an annual salary of more than £100,000.

The first report revealed how the Bromley Trust got into £101 million debt which, campaigners believe, is the reason why Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup has been threatened with having its A&E axed. Mr Watkinson, who has been suspended on full pay since the Bromley report, told a Cornish newspaper that he would appeal against his sacking, adding: "I am disappointed and I believe they have dismissed me unfairly.

"My lawyers tell me I have a right to an appeal and I will certainly be exercising this right. The report is flawed as it contains factual inaccuracies and unbalanced.

"I have provided to the review team responses that comprehensively correct the inaccuracies and imbalance in their report, but these representations have been ignored in all but trivial ways."

The latest report claimed Mr Watkinson and board members had, during 2007 and 2008 "failed to sufficiently follow the spirit of the codes of conduct for NHS boards and managers".

Before that the Bromley report, led by consultant and former NHS manager Michael Taylor, stated that Mr Watkinson had breached the code of accountability for NHS boards as well as the manager's code of conduct.

Health campaigner Julie Mott, 61, from Orpington said: "If what was in the Taylor report was true, then he should have not waited to be sacked, he should have resigned. These people hang on by their teeth when they should accept responsibility for what they have done.

"He has no right working in the NHS."

The Bromley report read: "I hold very serious concerns about Mr Watkinson's approach to financial management and the unprofessional behaviour among certain of his immediate subordinates.

"The Trust failed, over a number of years, to heed warnings of its worsening underlying financial position issued by its external auditor.Mr Watkinson continued to exude optimism about the Trust's financial position until his departure at the end of 2006. The scrutiny of the finance reports by the Trust board was inadequate."

Now chairman of RCHT, Martin Watts, said there was some way to go get the Cornish Trust back on track but thought it had started making progress.

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