Hospital boss gets backing from NHS

CRITICISM in some newspapers of Hinchingbrooke Hospital s interim chief executive is unfair and distracting, NHS chiefs say. The East of England Strategic Health Authority has set itself four-square behind Jane Herbert in her task of identifying a viable

CRITICISM in some newspapers of Hinchingbrooke Hospital's interim chief executive is unfair and distracting, NHS chiefs say.

The East of England Strategic Health Authority has set itself four-square behind Jane Herbert in her task of identifying a viable future for the hospital, after an old story about massaged NHS target figures in Manchester four years ago re-emerged.

Neil McKay, the SHA's new chief executive, who oversees all aspects of the health service in eastern England, told The Hunts Post: "Jane Herbert has the full confidence and support of the SHA and the Hinchingbrooke Hospital NHS Trust.

"Jane has a quite outstanding track record in successfully turning around NHS organisations with substantial financial issues, and no one should be under any illusion about her abilities.

"She has taken on a significant challenge to ensure that the health services provided at Hinchingbrooke are financially and clinically viable and sustainable for the future. This work is progressing well and options will be put to the board of the trust by the end of the year.

"The current degree of criticism of Jane from some parts of the media is unfair. It is not only upsetting for her but a major distraction from the key task of securing the best clinically safe and financially sound future for Hinchingbrooke Hospital, a task to which Jane is totally committed."

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His statement is a sharp rebuff for Geoffrey Heathcock, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman on Cambridgeshire County Council and chairman of the health scrutiny panel, who called for the sacking of the entire Hinchingbrooke trust board.

"It is extremely disturbing to find that Mrs Herbert has been investigated for wrong doing in the recent past," he wrote to SHA chairman Keith Pearson.

"You must surely understand - when there is already considerable anxiety as to how Hinchingbrooke got into its present difficulties - that this should be further compounded by the presence of a senior manager who has an inappropriate could hanging over her from past activity.

"It gives no sense of confidence, it gives no endorsement of propriety in her financial or other operations and it gives further rise to worry about what the Hinchingbrooke trust was told."

He concluded: "The acting chief executive and the whole board should now be removed by the Secretary of State through yourselves, and the hospital be given truly a fresh start."

But Sue Smith, chairman of the Hinchingbrooke trust, said Mrs Herbert had been completely honest. "Ms Herbert was completely transparent with me regarding her previous errors of judgement and was also able to demonstrate that she had the right skills to help set Hinchingbrooke on the path to a sustainable future."

The hospital trust also issued a statement supporting Mrs Herbert, saying the future of Hinchingbrooke depends on her financial and service turnaround skills.

It has paid Mrs Herbert £119,000 salary for her six-month appointment. A permanent appointment, the trust says, would involve a package of £107,000 a year, but terminating that contract could add £250,000. Terminating a temporary contract costs nothing.

n Huntingdon's MP, Conservative Jonathan Djanogly, has received surprise public backing from St Ives Labour Party stalwart Richard Allen.

"Jonathan Djanogly, as our elected MP, has been acting as a focus for the campaign. Regardless of whether one agrees with his politics or not, there is no doubt that on this issue he is trying to do the job for which he was elected," Mr Allen said.

But he criticised Tory leader David Cameron's backing for the campaign a fortnight ago, accusing him of having voted last year against additional funding for the NHS and of backing private medicine.

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