Northern Health Trust chairman sacked

Published Friday, 14 December 2012
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Northern Health Trust chairman Jim Stewart has been sacked.

Northern Health Trust chairman sacked
Jim Stewart. (© Pacemaker)

Health Minister Edwin Poots said the decision comes "against a background of very serious and unresolved issues with the performance of the Trust on emergency care".

Mr Stewart had accused the DUP minister of trying to victimise him after he threatened heads would roll if trusts did not achieve their targets.

Mr Poots said the comments were wholly inappropriate.

He has now terminated Mr Stewart's contract with immediate effect.

A written statement to the Assembly by the Health Minister continued: "Whatever may or may not have been said before 10 December, it was wholly inappropriate for Mr Stewart to speak publicly as he did on Monday.

"His statement was very damaging to the reputation of the Trust and confirmed that Mr Stewart does not share my view that much better performance against the 12-hour standard for A&E Departments is both possible and essential in the short term. I have brought in the Turn Around and Support Team to help ensure that the required improvement is secured."

Mr Stewart said the move is "unjust" and he is being made a "scapegoat".

He told UTV: "I believe I am being made a scapegoat by the minister who has set unreasonable targets and then threatened them to deliver.

"It's not really the way we should be running the health service.

"The Health Minister has been 18 months in the post and he has never once sat down with me to discuss issues with the trust or my performance or any points I have to make.

"This is very unjust."

The trust has been under mounting pressure, due in part to the services at Antrim Area Hospital's accident and emergency department.

The hospital has regularly missed waiting time targets for successive winters.

Mr Poots continued: "I firmly believe that public service values must be at the core of health and social care.

"Non- executive members who are appointed to the boards of health and social care bodies are placed in positions of responsibility and as such must demonstrate the highest standards of corporate and personal conduct based on recognition that patients and clients always come first.

"Regrettably, in addition to a number of performance issues at the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, upon which the chair was recently challenged by my department, Mr Stewart fell short of these high standards in recent days.

"I have therefore taken all factors into account and decided that in the interests of the organisation that his position as chair should be terminated."

Meanwhile the Northern Trust has wished Mr Stewart well for the future.

A statement said: "The Board members of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust wish to thank Mr Stewart for his years of commitment and contribution since the Trust was established.

"We are grateful for his strong leadership in contributing to the improvement of care for patients, clients and carers. The Minister has acknowledged the professionalism and dedication of all staff working at the Northern Trust and we welcome this.

"The Board wishes Mr Stewart well for the future."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Betty in N Ireland wrote (777 days ago):
The Health Minister may only be in his job 18 months but the civil servants have been in their jobs a lot longer. Did he think the slate gets wiped clean when you get a new Health Minister?? He did not learn any lessons from the past and continued to allow the Trust to under-perform. When is enough, enough??
Dave in Magherafelt wrote (778 days ago):
I ask Mr potts is this the real reason for sacking Mr Stewart,Putting his team in will look good for Mr potts when the new A&E opens very shortly. I as Mr Potts to visit ward C6 or A&E at12 or 1 in morning unanounced to see how under staffed the Hospital really is. If Mr Potts keeps cutting the the money pot how is Mr Stewart meant to keep things running.The Doctors & nurses are flat out doing their best sometimes one nurse to 24 to27 patients at the weekends on the ward.
gayle in overseas wrote (778 days ago):
Someone needs to be held accountable.Although I agree Jim Stewart is being used as a scape goat, its about time somebody and possibly all of the senior executive management should be answerable for their decision making. As it is, some and perhaps the most culpable, have already walked.Never the less, damage has already been done and its great that Mr Poots is doing something now to focus attention.
Shirley in Ballymoney wrote (778 days ago):
No-one doubts the Trust has encountered problems, but, the general opinion is, if you open a smaller hospital for a bigger catchement area, with less beds/staff, you will never meet the unrealistic targets set by the Government!!!! Maybe the Health Minister needs to work a shift in the A&E dept; (try a Fri/Sat night!), to get a proper idea of the workload the Staff face! Stressed beyond belief, & innundated with members of the public who really should have attended their GP`s with their minor ailments instead of a very busy A&E dept!, ...... & not to mention the (almost daily) influx of folk with their alcohol related problems, usually with the PSNI in attendance, which depletes their resources too! The wards are also under immense pressure too, especially since the Government want more "hands on care", but, again, with not enough staff, carrying out care, as well as coping with the daily duties of a busy ward, this proves extremely frustrating & stressful! So, before criticising, ....... how about it Mr Poots?, ...are you game? ........ I for one will not be holding my breath!
Sarah in Bangor wrote (778 days ago):
The trust has consistently under performed and whilst I do not agree with anyone losing their job, if the management cannot adapt and adjust to their environment, then they are clearly not able to do the job. Management needs to be challenged at all trusts. The public deserve better treatment.
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