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NHS South West

Volume 521: debated on Monday 10 January 2011

On 17 June 2010, I asked Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS in England, to initiate a review into the approach and behaviour of the NHS South West (the strategic health authority) in relation to Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT), in particular, to the dismissal of John Watkinson and, by association, the trust’s position in relation to the provision of upper gastro-intestinal services in Cornwall.

Verita, a specialist company that conducts independent investigations, reviews and inquiries, carried out the review. The report was published on the Department of Health website on Tuesday 4 January 2011.

In the written ministerial statement of 17 June 2010, Official Report, column 57WS, I committed to updating the House on the findings of the report and my response. The key findings of the report were:

the strategic health authority put appropriate pressure on the RCHT board to suspend John Watkinson but was not involved in the decision to dismiss him;

the strategic health authority was justifiably concerned about many aspects of RCHT’s performance in the period leading up to the RCHT board’s dismissal of John Watkinson;

the RCHT chair and non-executive directors were relatively inexperienced within the NHS and it was good practice for them to take advice from the more experienced strategic health authority before making their own decision what to do; and

NHS South West is considered to have acted appropriately given its performance management responsibilities for NHS organisations in the south west and the fact that RCHT was not a foundation trust.

The report has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.