Ipswich: Caution over private deal hospital boss

A HEALTH boss brought in to rescue an ailing NHS hospital by hatching a deal with a private firm is believed to be in line for the top job at Ipswich Hospital.

According to sources close to the hospital, Nigel Beverley is thought to be the number one choice for the interim chief executive position, following the departure of Andrew Reed last week.

Mr Beverley was chief executive of Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire when a partnership was agreed, which saw the NHS trust being managed by independent firm Circle. It is the first NHS hospital in the country to be operated by a private firm.

However an Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman stressed that an official decision would not be made until May 15.

Last week Mr Reed announced his intention to leave the Heath Road trust for a new role with the region’s strategic health authority, NHS Midlands and East.

A hospital spokeswoman told the Star the interim chief will be picked from a pool of candidates who specialise in taking on similar temporary roles.

Health campaigners said they were cautious about the new appointment but were optimistic about the change.

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Prue Rush, health campaigner, said: “[If it is Mr Beverley], it is good to see that there is going to be a dynamic head running Ipswich Hospital – but we do hope he won’t be putting it in line for privatisation.

“We don’t want that to happen to Ipswich Hospital. We will give him a chance and we will be looking at him with interest, knowing his history.”

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for North Ipswich and Central Suffolk and an NHS doctor, said: “It is very useful to have a fresh pair of eyes to investigate what the true state of affairs is at Ipswich and look at the long-term challenges faced by the hospital.

“It is critical we get the right management team running the hospital. It is about making sure we support the hard-working doctors, nurses and other frontline staff to perform fantastically each day. It is welcome to have a change.”

Former patient Tony Ramsey added: “As long as the hospital improves patient care, I do not care who runs it.”

Since taking over at the trust seven years ago, Mr Reed has overseen a turbulent period in the hospital’s history. He faced a mountain of historic debt, witnessed the opening of the Garrett Anderson wing, endured a damning Care Quality Commission report criticising the hospital’s care of the elderly and celebrated with patients when the hospital secured the �5million needed to open a new specialist heart centre on the Heath Road site.

An Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman said: “The chairman and non-executive director are meeting on May 15 to discuss an interim CEO.”

A spokeswoman for NHS East of England reiterated that no decisions have been made yet.

Mr Beverley was unavailable for comment.

n Where do you see the future of the hospital? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk