The chief executive of an acute trust has been sacked for swearing in meetings, seven months after he went on sick leave with stress.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust chief executive Gary Walker was sacked after a disciplinary hearing last week.

The trust has been in turmoil since last summer when its chair, David Bowles, resigned, claiming the trust was under “obsessive” pressure from NHS East Midlands to put targets before patient safety. Mr Walker has been on sick leave with stress since Mr Bowles resigned.

A subsequent investigation into the claims, commissioned by NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson, cleared the strategic health authority of bullying in October.

A former non-executive director told HSJ that Mr Walker was sacked solely for swearing in meetings. Trust staff were told by email that Mr Walker had “left” and a permanent successor would be appointed.

Mr Walker said he was “devastated” by the sacking and would appeal against it. He said the decision to start recruiting a new chief executive before he could appeal was prejudicial to him.

The trust would not confirm whether or not Mr Walker had been dismissed, saying in a statement it had a duty of confidentiality.