The Foundation Trust Network chair has issued a fierce defence of the network’s suspended director Sue Slipman.

As HSJ reported last night, Ms Slipman has been suspended pending an investigation into issues we can now confirm relate to the network’s plan to break away from the NHS Confederation.

HSJ understands acting NHS Confederation chief executive Nigel Edwards was prompted to suspend Ms Slipman after concerns her separation plans conflicted with the interests of the Confederation as a whole.

But in a statement issued to HSJ FTN chair Peter Griffiths said he was “extremely disappointed” by the suspension. He also told HSJ the entire board of the FTN “fully supported everything” Ms Slipman in pursuit of independence for the FTN.

He continues: “I am most concerned that this turn of events could be damaging for all concerned, not least Sue Slipman and her team. I have called an emergency meeting of the FTN Board to consider how we move forward from here with our members.”

On well developed plans for the FTN to split from the Confed Mr Griffiths says: “We believe the next and natural phase of development for the FTN is to become a fully independent body working in partnership with the NHS Confederation to develop an alliance of organisations concerned with the health and social care system in England and to collaborate on issues of mutual interest.”

His full statement is available here.

HSJ understands the Confederation has proposed to restructure itself along broad clinical interest groups – for example acute providers, mental health providers and commissioners.

The FTN statement says that counter proposal will now also be considered at an emergency meeting of the FTN board.

Foundation Trust Network considers Confed split as director suspended