Bosses at hospital criticised for whistleblower 'witch-hunt' step down
- Credit: GREGG BROWN/WEST SUFFOLK HOSPITAL
Two hospital directors have announced they are stepping down from their posts later in 2021, citing personal reasons and retirement.
News of the high-profile departures from West Suffolk Hospital come ahead of a long-awaited review into why staff were fingerprinted when a whistleblower raised concerns, the results of which are expected in the next few weeks.
In an email to workers on Tuesday, chief executive Dr Steve Dunn announced the trust's medical director Nick Jenkins and chief operating officer Helen Beck would be leaving their senior roles.
Thanking them for their "dedication and leadership over many years", Dr Dunn said Dr Jenkins will step down from his role as of May 31 but will stay on part-time as a consultant in emergency medicine.
It is understood his departure from the board is for personal reasons, relating to family illness.
Ms Beck intends to retire at the end of November, with a replacement expected to be appointed by December 2021.
Dr Dunn said: "We are pleased that Nick will remain as a valuable member of the trust’s consultant body and we wish Helen all the very best for her retirement at the end of the year."
The announcement comes ahead of a delayed review into why hospital staff were asked for fingerprints and handwriting samples when a whistleblower wrote to a bereaved family with concerns about their relative's treatment.
Susan Warby, from Bury St Edmunds, died following a bowel operation in August 2018 and her husband Jon received an anonymous letter around five weeks later highlighting blunders.
Once rated 'outstanding' by the Care Quality Commission, the hospital - the main one in health secretary Matt Hancock's constituency - fell to the second-lowest rating of 'requires improvement' in January 2020.
Inspectors who visited in September and October 2019 found the leadership "did not demonstrate an open and empowering culture" and said staff felt a "lack of freedom to speak up".
The trust, which has since apologised, quickly became the subject of a government review which NHS bosses say has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
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Hospital bosses said at the time: "We acknowledge that this has been a difficult and stressful experience for the staff involved, and for that, we are sorry and will continue to reflect on this as an investigation."
The review, originally meant for publication last April, is now due out this spring.