Interests row over new Cornwall hospitals appointment

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The appointment of a senior official from Cornwall Council to the board of a new private company to run NHS district hospitals has been criticised.

The Peninsula Health Community Interest Company is to take over the running 14 community hospitals from 1 October.

Labour councillor Jude Robinson said such an appointment could mean conflicts of interest as the council was to scrutinise the company.

The council and the company said the appointee could work past conflicts.

'Other organisations'

Peninsula Health, a not-for-profit organisation, has been awarded a four-and-a-half year contract to run community hospitals.

Council assistant chief executive Paul Masters is to join the board as a non-executive director.

His appointment was approved by council chief executive Kevin Lavery and Alec Robertson, the Conservative leader of the Conservative-Independent run unitary authority.

Councillor Robinson questioned possible conflicts of interest, saying that the council also had a responsibility for helping to monitor, oversee and scrutinise the service provided by the company.

The council said Mr Masters was considered the best man for the job.

It added: "There are also a number of other organisations which are involved in overseeing the services provided by this new organisation.

"These include the Shadow Health and Well Being Board, and the Health and Adults Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Elected members sit on both these bodies."

Peninsula Health said it was confident that any potential conflict of interest could be properly managed.

As well as community hospitals, district nurses will be affected by the change.

The move was approved by Cornwall's primary care trust in June.

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