Hospital chairman stands down

IPSWICH Hospital's chairman Christine Smart is today standing down from her role amid a growing financial crisis.Ms Smart, who has come to the end of her four-year period as chairman, had previously spoken of re-applying for the job but said she has decided that she can no longer continue in the role.

IPSWICH Hospital's chairman Christine Smart is today standing down from her role amid a growing financial crisis.

Ms Smart, who has come to the end of her four-year period as chairman, had previously spoken of re-applying for the job but said she has decided that she can no longer continue in the role.

Her announcement comes on the day the hospital announced that a new £7m financial black-hole has opened up, but Ms Smart said her departure is not a direct result of this.

She said: “I believe that it is now in the hospital's best interest that I stand down and introduce new leadership to successfully create a bright future for the hospital.


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“I do not take this decision lightly or hastily.”

Ms Smart joined the hospital as chairman in 2002 and throughout her time at the hospital she has been a champion of patients and staff, always striving for improvements in patient care despite the difficult financial backdrop.

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She was a familiar face throughout the hospital, taking an active part in events and trying her best to get out on to the wards as often as possible.

The last two years have been particularly hard as in 2005 she was forced to 'steer' the hospital without a permanent chief executive at the helm and, more recently, she has had to cope with mounting debts and ward closures.

Last month she had to chair an emotional board meeting where scores of staff packed in to the room to hear the board approve up to 105 job cuts, another ward closure and reductions in beds in places like the Intensive Care Unit.

Speaking in August 2005 she was optimistic for the future, vowing not to let things get on top of her.

She told the Star: “I am looking forward positively, because never in my career have I worked anywhere that is so friendly, with such good spirit and staff so eager to do their best. I stay because I know things will be better.

“I can't change things if I'm not part of them.”

But more recently, in an interview with the Star earlier this month, she conceded: “I've never been through anything like this in my career in the NHS.”

High points of her time at Ipswich Hospital have included overseeing the creation of the Garrett Anderson Centre, a new multi-million pound treatment centre which is due to open in 2007.

She has also watched over the creation of the angiography suite and the Acute Medical Unit.

Ms Smart earned between £20,000 and £25,000 a year for her role as chairman and also runs her own management company.

She first joined the NHS 35 years ago, when she worked as an administrator of a health authority in West Sussex.

She will step down from her role at the hospital on June 30.

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