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Trust denies Morecambe Bay chief nurse is joining it on secondment

Plans for the chief nurse of the Cumbrian trust at the centre of the scandal over poor maternity care to leave under a compromise agreement have been thrown into confusion after the trust it was announced she would go to on secondment said they had not agreed to the move.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay in Cumbria announced in a statement last week that Jackie Holt would be going to Warrington and Halton Hospitals Foundation Trust in Cheshire on secondment for 12 months.

The statement said she was to work on a specific project around workforce skills and future ways of working.

The plan was that Morecambe Bay would continue to pay her full salary during the secondment, which in 2011-12 was between £100,000 and £105,000, until her employment ceased at the end of the 12-month period.

However, this morning Warrington and Halton confirmed that, although they were approached about the possibility of providing a secondment, they had decided against it.

A spokesman for the Cheshire trust said: “We did agree to consider a possible project opportunity, but in doing so, no conclusions were reached and no formal agreement was made.

“After consideration it has not been possible to provide that particular opportunity at the present time, so Ms Holt will not be working with the trust.”

Ms Holt, who has worked as a nurse in the NHS since 1982, has been in post at Morecambe Bay for five years.

She is the only member of the previous executive team still working at the troubled trust, which has come under scrutiny following a number of infant and maternal deaths at Furness General Hospital’s maternity unit between 2004 and 2008.

An independent inquiry into the events surrounding the deaths is due to begin once an ongoing police investigation has completed.

The events at the trust have also led to the healthcare regulator the Care Quality Commission being accused of covering up its own failure to uncover the patient safety issues there.

Morecambe Bay chief executive Jackie Daniel said this morning the intention was still to secure a secondment for Ms Holt.

She said: “The new trust board has started the process of recruiting a replacement chief nurse and believes that this is the right time for a change in leadership. I want to be clear, this position will not change.”

A spokesman for the Cumbrian trust confirmed to Nursing Times that Ms Holt was leaving under a compromise agreement.

In a statement, trust chair John Cowdall said there were no “gagging or confidentiality clauses” in the compromise agreement, which would prevent Ms Holt talking about the trust. 

Readers' comments (4)

  • This always looked a bit 'iffy' when you think about it.

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  • How does that work then?

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  • While not commenting on the specific case the whole idea of secondment should be questioned. There is great anxiety about how secondments may be used to side line who may be seen as problematic in seconding organisations.

    Secondly secondment to statutory organisations can be seen as a way of creating structures that undermine democracy in decision making. There are staff seconded from Universities to NHS Trusts and to Nurse Education Scotland for instance who might influence decisions in favour of seconding organisations.

    The role of these staff may be seen as a conflict of interest. Current decisions in Nurse Education appear to be influenced by processes were transparency and meaningful and democratic decision making have been seen as victims to executive decision making. In Education we do not have sufficient teachers so we cant afford the luxury to second them to do other peoples work while leaving their workload to add to ever increasing workloads.

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  • It's interesting how things evolve under the spotlight of publicity. This looks like a year's extra pay, at the taxpayers expense (though it could be something else)

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