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Exclusive: Morecambe Bay chief nurse may keep payout if secondment falls through

The chief nurse of a scandal hit hospital in the north west will still be entitled to receive a 12-month payout regardless of whether the trust is able to secure her a secondment, Nursing Times understands.

It is the latest twist in events surrounding University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust and the future of its chief nurse Jackie Holt.

Last month, during intense media attention on the trust and the Care Quality Commission, Morecambe Bay unveiled plans for Ms Holt to leave and spend a year on secondment at another organisation.

But confusion arose when Nursing Times discovered that the move had never been agreed by the intended recipient, Warrington and Halton Hospitals Foundation Trust.

Sources have now told Nursing Times that if the trust fails to secure a secondment, Ms Holt will still leave the trust with her deal intact.

Ms Holt has been in post at Morecambe Bay for five years. She is the only member of the previous executive team still 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.

As reported by Nursing Times, it was hoping to secure a 12-month placement for Ms Holt and had agreed with her that she would leave under a compromise agreement.

Morecambe Bay announced she would be going to Warrington and Halton Hospitals to work on a project around workforce skills and future ways of working.

But the Cheshire trust told Nursing Times “no formal agreement was made”. In a statement it said: “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.”

Morecambe Bay chief executive Jackie Daniel has subsequently said the trust still intends to find Ms Holt a secondment and “this position will not change”. She told Nursing Times that the trust had already “started the process of recruiting a replacement chief nurse and believes that this is the right time for a change in leadership”.

Ms Holt was contractually entitled to a six month notice period and on top of this was offered an extra six month’s pay and a secondment, Nursing Times understands. This would give her a total remuneration of more than £100,000, based on her salary in 2011-12.

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

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