Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 18:12 UK

Cornwall hospitals chief sacked

John Watkinson
John Watkinson had been on extended leave

John Watkinson has been sacked as chief executive of NHS hospitals in Cornwall following an independent review.

Mr Watkinson was suspended in September after concerns about huge debts at Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust (BHT) in London where he had formerly worked.

The independent review published in March said the leadership of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals' Trust (RCHT) was heading "towards corporate failure".

The trust board said it was terminating his employment from Friday.

'Move forward'

RCHT chairman Martin Watts said: "The independent review raised serious concerns and its conclusion and recommendations were accepted by the trust board."

He said the trust had "already begun to move forward".

He said: "There is a great deal to achieve but in my few weeks in post as chairman what is plainly evident is the passion of staff, and the support of our partners in the wider NHS, to see the trust's hospitals succeed.

"The focus we will place on quality as the driving force behind the trust's recovery will reap real benefits in terms of patient care, our efficiency and long term sustainability."

The independent review was prompted by a critical report on financial management at BHT which had debts of £87m.

Mr Watkinson had condemned the review as "deeply flawed". He was not contactable by the BBC to comment on his sacking.

After his suspension a number of high-profile doctors called for him to be reinstated.

They said he had been a "scapegoat" for challenging NHS plans to centralise South West cancer services, a claim the trust rejected.

West Cornwall MP Andrew George told BBC News that Mr Watkinson had "enjoyed wide popularity" as chief executive of the RCHT, but now the trust had to look forward.

He said: "Whatever has happened in the past we must ensure that the RCHT has the funding and capacity to build its services and has the ability to respond to the health needs of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly."



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