The chairman of King’s Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has resigned amid a deepening crisis over care standards and the trust’s financial situation.
Kate Gordon announced her decision to stand down in a letter to local politicians including MP Steve Barclay, it has emerged.
And today the decision was made to place the trust into special measures, meaning that an external management team will be brought in to oversee changes.
And political leaders have called for all parties to work together in a bid to turn things around.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said he wanted to see the good practice that already existed at the hospital reinforced across the site.
He said the development could be “an exciting opportunity” to raise standards and insisted he was confident things will improve.
But, asked about the trust’s future, he warned: “They’ve got a year to turn it around. I don’t want to speculate about the future, but we don’t want to even go there.”
A hospital spokesman confirmed Kate Gordon, had resigned from her post on Tuesday and stated the hospital was continuing to operate as normal.
Chief executive Patricia Wright has also left her post, though it was announced last month that she would be leaving to take up a role as chief executive of the Royal College of Physicians.
Her notice period expires this week. Sharon Beamish has been appointed as acting chief executive.
The news comes just two months after damning reports by the Care Quality Commission and hospital regulator Monitor into standards of care and the trust’s financial position were made public.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said he understood that, although progress had been made to tackle the concerns raised in the reports, health service chiefs did not have confidence in the hospital’s management to achieve the necessary improvements.
He blamed a lack of continuity and strong leadership for the current problems.
Mr Bellingham said: “It has been very difficult for a small district general hospital to provide the level of services that my constituents expect in a tough financial climate.”
But he continued: “There’s no excuse for poor standards. Some of the areas of concern are not about money but about compassion and common sense.”
Although he estimated he received five or six letters from constituents praising care at the hospital for every letter of complaint, he said: “I have been getting far too many letters recently from constituents who have been dissatisfied with what is happening at the hospital. I have been going from having one a year to maybe one a week or two a week.”
South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said she and Mr Bellingham would be meeting ministers next month to discuss the problems at the hospital.
Fenland MP Steve Barclay added: “It is clearly deeply concerning that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn has gone into special measures. I can fully understand patients and staff feeling the need to be reassured that measures are being taken to ensure standards of care are back up to standard as soon as possible.
“However, today’s decision on the overall care rating of the hospital does not mean that all services provided by the hospital are below the required standard. It is right, however, that current challenges are confronted and I support the Secretary of State’s decision to review standards .”