A primary care trust chair who resigned over his treatment during the selection process has received an apology from the NHS Appointments Commission.

A primary care trust chair who resigned over his treatment during the selection process has received an apology from the NHS Appointments Commission.

Michael Lynch resigned on 31 July after failing to win the job of chair of the new Cambridgeshire primary care trust. He had been chair of Huntingdonshire PCT - one of four merging to form the new PCT - since 2001.

In his letter of resignation he wrote: 'While I accept the decision... I cannot allow the reasons for my non-appointment to go unchallenged.' His main concern was over a written statement by the assessor from Human Assets Ltd that he was prepared to close a local hospital without consultation with the community or recognition of the impact on the community. He made no such statement in the assessment, he said, and would never do so. The supposed statement was then the basis of a question at interview, where he was unsuccessful.

On 25 August Mr Lynch received a written apology from Roger Moore, chief executive of the NHS Appointments Commission. It says: 'It seems clear that the report [of Mr Lynch's assessment by Human Assets Ltd] inaccurately reported what you wrote.

'I understand that, as one who has served as a PCT chair, the suggestion that you would ride roughshod over the wishes of the community including a hospital is a mistake that needs correction.'

However, Mr Moore did not believe the mistake had affected the outcome of the selection process.

Mr Lynch said the error cast doubt over the quality of the assessments. 'If they got it wrong for me, how many others did they get it wrong for?' he asked.

The commission said it had received complaints from two candidates, each of whom had received a detailed response.

'It is an insult to people who do it because they wish to make a contribution'

Malcolm Hanney - who has been appointed chair of the new Bath and North East Somerset PCT - is critical of the appointments process.

'There is great annoyance by incumbent chairs of unreconfigured PCTs that having been appointed, reviewed regularly and delivered in difficult circumstances, they should be subject to open competition for their posts when their chief executive is not,' he said.

'The Appointments Commission has said that this is because of the new role of PCTs and the change in remuneration. Frankly the change in remuneration is not substantive. I do not see Richard Branson or Alan Sugar putting their names forward. It is an insult to people who do it because they wish to make a contribution.'

An unsuccessful chair candidate said: 'Everybody is saying this must not happen again. How much has it cost? Not just financially but in lost opportunity, time and loss of goodwill?'