this week

Alder Hey hospital chief Hilary Rowland, who was dismissed this week over her handling of the organ retention scandal, was 'unfairly accused', according to her union.

A three-day hearing, undertaken by an independent lay chair and two non-executive directors, found that Ms Rowland had brought both herself and the Royal Liverpool Children's trust into disrepute in her handling of the situation.

Following a meeting of board non-executives earlier this week, the trust revealed that it had accepted the panel's decision and agreed to terminate Ms Rowland's employment.

But Jonathan Baume, general secretary of her union the First Division Association, said: 'Noone could have tried harder to manage a virtually unprecedented situation.'

He warned: 'This case has enormous consequences for chief executives in the NHS. The panel's ruling means that from now on, chief executives will be held accountable to an extent not seen in any other similar position of responsibility in Britain today.

'Hilary and the FDA are very disappointed by this decision.'

Ms Rowland had been on extended leave since March 2000 and was officially suspended in January this year.

The Alder Hey report criticised her after she admitted she did not know the full extent of organ retention at her trust, and said she had refused to address the issue when it became public.

Trust chair Angela Jones said: 'This has been a difficult time for everyone involved, not least the staff who have continued to work through all of this with determination and commitment, ' but legal constraints prevented the trust from releasing any further information.

Ms Rowland was unavailable for comment.