St Albans MP reacts angrily to departure of hospitals boss - UPDATED

West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive Samantha Jones

West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive Samantha Jones - Credit: Photo supplied

The surprise announcement that hospitals trust chief executive Samantha Jones was moving on has been greeted with dismay by St Albans MP, Anne Main.

Jac Kelly

Jac Kelly - Credit: Archant

Ms Jones has been heading up the West Herts Hospitals Trust (WHHT) for nearly two years but will leave her post next Friday, January 16, to lead a major new NHS programme of work.

She has been running the trust which incorporates St Albans City, Hemel Hempstead and Watford General Hospitals, since February 2013.

Taking her place on an interim basis will be Jacqueline (Jac) Kennedy, former chief executive of Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust who was awarded an MBE for services to healthcare in the New Year’s Honours List last week.

Mrs Main said this week: “I am absolutely shocked that Ms Jones is leaving at such a crucial time for the trust. WHHT is undergoing consultation for fundamental change that will reshape our local health service; I am disappointed that she has chosen to walk away at such as crucial moment.”

Local NHS organisations and Herts county council launched the review in November under the name Your Care, Your Future with the aim of determining the future shape of MHS and social care services across West Herts.

Ms Jones told people at a recent ‘meet the boss’ event in St Albans that while the trust was rich in terms of real estate it was poor in the availability of funding for patients.

Mrs Main said the consultation would need to be extended to allow Ms Jones’ successor, Jac Kelly, to get her feet under the table.

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She went on: “I don’t dispute that difficult decisions will have to be made during this process; however, i can’t think anyone would have the time to get up to speed at such short notice.

“Well into Ms Jones’s tenure, failings were uncovered from her predecessor Jan Filochowski. We need to give her replacement ample time to ‘peel back the onion’ and fully examine the challenges facing the trust.”

St Albans Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate, Sandy Walkington, expressed his regret at Ms Jones’s departure, saying that her leadership would be ‘sorely missed and there has been a real sense that West Herts Trust’s problems were being gripped.”

He went on: “West Herts Hospital Trust can hardly afford yet another turnover of top management, particularly in the middle of the strategic review of NHS services in the west of Hertfordshire.”

Mr Walkington compared the number of ‘interim appointments’ at WHHT with the relative stability of East and North Herts Trust.

St Albans Labour prospective parliamentary candidate, Kerry Pollard, commented that it was ‘inevitable’ that someone with Ms Jones’ outstanding qualities wuld move on and she would be a sad loss to the trust.

But he looked forward to welcoming Jac Kelly who would be taking over at ‘a most challenging time’.

Ms Jones will be taking on a new role as director of new models of care for NHS England and will lead on the implementation of changes to health and care services outlined in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

WHHT chair, Mahdi Hasan, said: “Samantha has overseen many significant changes across our hospitals, in particular in improving the quality and safety of the care we provide to our patients.”

Antony Tiernan, director of communications for the trust, added: “Our new chief executive Jac Kelly has an impressive track record of working in the NHS, including eight years at a large hospital trust. Jac will be supported by a team of experienced executive and non-executive directors, as well as the thousands of committed nurses, doctors and other staff who work across our hospitals.”