Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has branded governance changes at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust a “sorry mess” and called on ministers to force the release of the “mystery” report from an investigation that was carried out into the running of the trust
The investigation which questions the integrity and performance of the Board and in particular non-executives, remains under wraps. Several of the non-executive directors resigned believing they were no longer able to fulfil their role properly.
Speaking in Parliament during a Backbench Business Debate on the NHS, Alex spoke of a “difficult patch” faced by the trust in which the newly appointed Joint Chair, Professor Derek Bell, presented a plan for a joint CEO for the North and South Trusts – sparking fears that a full merger was on the cards. In his speech, Alex made it clear he was not opposed to a merger of the trusts, but that one could only take place “at the right time – and always in the best interests of patients”.
Only a selective summary is published
Instead of publishing the full report, as promised to Alex by NHS England Regional Director Richard Barker, a summary was published and focused “almost entirely” on the integrity of the former Non-Executive Directors. There was nothing about the Chair’s role nor that of regional officials. Alex said they too must be held accountable publicly. Even a Freedom of Information request made on 17 November 2022 is yet to receive a reply.
Alex also raised concern about the make-up of the new Non-Executive Directors, with only the current Vice Chair a resident of the North Tees Trust area.
Speaking in the debate Alex said:
“We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all independent Non-Executive Chairs and Directors for the work they do across the country, often in the most difficult of circumstances.
“The non-executive directors, in particular, are required to be independentand ensure they put the interests of patients first. And that is exactly what the team at North Tees did. They made a robust challenge to the proposed changes something that clearly wasn’t appreciated by the Chair and NHS bosses…”
A call to publish the report
Demanding accountability and transparency from the Regional Director and Chair, Alex called on the minister “to get involved, find out why this sorry mess was allowed to be created and ensure that the report is published.”
Later in the debate Alex secured a commitment from the minister to look into the issues he raised in the debate and looks forward to the secret report being published.
The full speech can be found here: Future of the NHS – Hansard – UK Parliament.
This article is based on a press release from the office of Alex Cunningham, MP