Chairman resigns from James Paget University hospital

The chairman of a hospital which was warned over the quality of its care has resigned days after facing calls from an MP to step down.

John Hemming, 70, said "adverse publicity" meant he could not continue in his role at James Paget University Hospitals, in Gorleston, Norfolk.

The hospital failed two inspections by the Care Quality Commission.

Suffolk Coastal Conservative MP Therese Coffey had called for Mr Hemming to take responsibility and quit.

She said she had received an anonymous letter from "whistle-blowing" GPs.

Announcing his decision, Mr Hemming said: "I am standing down as chairman as I am seen politically as a hindrance to improving patient care for the vulnerable and elderly, which is unacceptable to me."

Warning notice

He added: "The adverse publicity is affecting the trust, causing patients and the local population to have unnecessary concerns about the quality of care in the Paget."

Mr Hemming was appointed chairman in November 2003.

Problems with nutrition were uncovered at the hospital earlier this year during an inspection of care for the elderly by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

When the issues had not been resolved during a return visit in September the hospital was issued with a warning notice.

If swift improvements are not made it could face sanctions including prosecution or closure of services.

The hospital, which serves north Suffolk and east Norfolk, is set to decide on the appointment of an interim chairman later this week.

Failed inspections

Wendy Slaney, chief executive of the hospital, said: "I am very sad indeed that John Hemming has taken the decision to relinquish his post.

"We are losing a fine chairman and a great champion for our patients and staff."

Speaking on 27 October, Mrs Coffey told MPs in the Westminster Hall Committee Room there were concerns the hospital could fail a third inspection and that it was time for new leadership.

Following news of Mr Hemming's resignation, Mrs Coffey said she was right to speak out.

She said: "Sometimes the role of a politician is to say some unpalatable things.

"It's not as if I was doing it on a whim. It was on the back of two failed CQC inspections, on several complaints and also some of the discussions that have happened in between.

"I wanted to suggest that some fresh leadership was needed - not attacking the hospital, not attacking the staff, just saying that a new captain was needed on board."

Mrs Coffey, Waveney MP Peter Aldous and Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis met with CQC on Wednesday to discuss Mr Hemming's resignation.

Mr Aldous said the three MPs will visit James Paget on Thursday along with the secretary of state for health, Andrew Lansley.

"We will be meeting with members of the board of governors and senior medical staff," said Mr Aldous.

"We need to try and be positive, get on, address the issues and reinstate the good reputation the hospital has got."

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