Black Country doctors back vote of no confidence in management

By Michele PaduanoBBC Midlands health correspondent

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The doctors claim clinical priorities seem secondary to financial performance

Doctors at a Black Country mental health trust have backed a vote of no confidence in their management team.

Sources say that the Black Country Healthcare NHS Trust is not acting in the best interests of patients and they believe it wants to cut beds.

They also have no confidence in the way that the trust has removed its chief medical officer, Mark Weaver.

The NHS Trust said it was aware of concerns and had agreed to work on them going forward.

The doctors wrote to the trust board following a meeting of the Medical Advisory Committee claiming that over the past two years the relationship with the board had become fractured.

In the letter they claimed the voice of doctors was not being taken seriously by the board and that clinical priorities were secondary to financial performance.

They also said they were seriously disturbed with the way in which Mr Weaver had been asked to step down and that the deputy chief medical officer Dr Sharada Abilash had not been asked to take over while due process occurred.

‘Corporate and tokenistic’

Instead, a part-time Chief Medical Officer Dr Jayanth Srinivas has been brought in from the Midland Partnership Trust for two and a half days a week.

The doctors said there was a serious question regarding the confidence of the consultant body in the interim chief medical officer.

The letter stated that serious issues had been raised before at board level and demanded answers by 14 December.

One source said: “The situation is unbearable. The culture of this organisation is now completely corporate and tokenistic.”

The consultants voted in favour of two statements expressing no confidence in the board’s handling of the replacement of the senior medical team and the potential impact of the process on the quality and safety of patient care.

At the moment, doctors are directly responsible for their patients. They fear the trust wants to move to a model where care is provided by whichever doctors are on shift.

‘Work together’

Marsha Foster, Chief Executive Officer at the NHS Trust, said: “Whilst we have not had formal confirmation of a vote, we have had a very positive discussion with the chair of the Medical Advisory Committee and other colleagues.

“We are aware of concerns that some of our medical colleagues have raised and we have agreed to work together on these going forward.

“Regarding the position of the chief medical officer, we are unable to comment further in order to protect the confidentiality of individuals concerned.

“It is important that we continue to build a strong, collaborative relationship between the board and our consultant body.

“We remain committed to ensuring the highest quality of care for our patients and communities.”

Dr Weaver wrote to the Medical Advisory Committee stating that suggestions he had stepped down were “not true and accurate,” adding “my reputation, nurtured over 40 years and of which I feel I am rightfully proud is being damaged both inside and outside the organisation and I cannot defend myself.”

He had previously applied to be chief executive of the trust, but did not get past the first stage.

He added: “I want to end by mentioning what happened at UHB [University Hospitals Birmgham] and in [Lucy] Letby. In those cases the medical directors sided with management against doctors.

“In Letby doctors were forced to apologise to a nurse who they suspected of murdering babies.”

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