The chief executive of a major NHS hospital has resigned, with observers generally believing that the decision was particularly motivated by a forthcoming report.
Dr Keith McNeil resigned his position at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge just one week before a care watchdog report is due to be published.
McNeil had taken up the position in November 2012, but it has become evident that the hospital in Cambridgeshire faces serious challenges.
In addition to the resignation of McNeil, chief finance officer Paul James has also voluntarily stood down from his position at the hospital.
Although the full extent of financial difficulties at Addenbrooke’s is not yet known, reports have indicated that the hospital is currently running a deficit of £1.2 million a week.
With these prominent individuals probably somewhat privy to the likely content of the report, it seems that both have considered their positions to be untenable.
And with the Care Quality Commission report due to be published within days, the organisation of the hospital has now been thrown into something of a crisis.
Speaking about his decision to resign, Dr. McNeil stated that the hospital face a number of very serious challenges. He also indicated that it had been a difficult decision to step down.
“It is a matter of public record that we face a number of very serious challenges, including a growing financial deficit, and I feel the time is right to have new leadership in place. I am pleased our hospitals continue to provide our patients with outcomes that are not only some of the best in the UK, but in Europe,” McNeil commented.
Despite making an official statement, McNeil gave no official reason for his resignation, and the situation has not been expanded upon by the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.
The hospital recently introduced a £200 million patient records system based on new IT technology, and it is thought that this has been central to its financial travails.
Monitor is currently investigating the finances of the trust.
Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge, acknowledged the problems caused by the new computer system, but suggested that there was a more fundamental underlying reason for the problems and resignations.
“The introduction of the new computer system was troubled and difficult and I suspect that’s contributed to their problems, but I think the basic responsibility for this is the [financial] pressure that’s been put on the National Health Service by the government. The Conservatives promised extra for the health service – we haven’t seen it,” Zeichner commented.
Zeichner also predicted that McNeil would not be the only chief executive in the NHS that would take such drastic action.
Of course, his comments must be seen in the context of his political allegiance.
Jane Ramsey, chairwoman of the trust, commented that McNeil had “shown great leadership qualities and has helped the trust to maintain its reputation for high quality care and excellent outcomes for our patients.”