Campaigners fear hospital conflict of interest

PUBLISHED: 12:32 30 September 2013 | UPDATED: 14:38 30 September 2013

Weston General Hospital.

Weston General Hospital.

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A CONFLICT of interest could negatively affect plans to safeguard Weston General Hospital's future, according to a campaign group.

One of the people involved in securing a long-term partner for Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT) has links with companies and health bodies interested in a future partnership.

Kathy Headdon, lay chair of North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), has connections with two of the 11 parties that have approached WAHT to express initial interest in a deal.

She previously is a consultant for Capita and her husband is a director for University Hospitals Bristol.

By declaring an interest Mrs Headdon has acted correctly, but campaigners believe she cannot be allowed to have any impact on the decision.

Steve Timmins of the Weston General Hospital Campaign said: “We are calling on Mrs Headdon to do the proper thing here and stand down from her posts.

“It is quite clear that she cannot be independent in her role in stakeholder and quality assurance in the tender process for Weston General Hospital if she is a consultant with one of the potential bidders.”

It is yet to be seen which of the 11 interested parties go on to make a formal bid for the contract and there is no suggestion that Mrs Headdon has committed any wrongdoing,

The Mercury contacted North Somerset CCG for comment but it failed to reply before going to press.

WAHT is seeking an external health trust or private firm to help run the hospital because it does not have the finances or infrastructure to remain independent in accordance with new Department of Health regulations.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Mercury last week that no decision had yet been made and has vowed that transparency in the decision making process will be preserved.

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