The chief executive of South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust – who was suspended after being accused of nepotism – has resigned.
Former nurse Paula Vasco-Knight’s decision to step down comes four months after she was suspended in the wake of an employment tribunal judgement, which criticised the trust’s handling of two whistleblowers.
The tribunal found the whistleblowers had suffered detriment at the hands of the trust, after raising concerns about the appointment process that led to Ms Vasco-Knight’s daughter’s boyfriend being given a job at the organisation.
In a statement, the trust said Ms Vasco-Knight, who was previously NHS England’s equalities lead and was awarded a CBE in January this year, had decided to relocate to “the North West of England for family reasons”.
The trust said it wished to “place on record that considerable success was achieved during Dr Vasco Knight’s tenure” and it was “unfortunate they had been overshadowed” by the Employment Tribunal Judgment.
It added that “notwithstanding” the tribunal’s judgment, Dr Vasco-Knight had asserted that an independent report commissioned prior to the tribunal “found no evidence” she had breached trust policies.
“The trust and Dr Vasco-Knight also wish to make it clear that no payments have been made to her other than those to which she is entitled under her contract of employment with the trust,” the statement said.
South Devon Healthcare is currently in the process of acquiring Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care Trust to create an integrated provider of acute, community health and social care services. The merger has already been delayed by the fallout from the tribunal.
A trust spokeswoman said Adrienne Murphy, the organisation’s director or workforce, who was also criticised by the tribunal, remained suspended.