The chief executive forced to step down over the 'bodies in the chapel' furore at Bedford Hospital trust has said his version of events has been vindicated by publication of a summary of a security report into the incident.
The report, by former police superintendent Ralph Miller, found 'overwhelming evidence' to show that coverings to three bodies stored in the hospital's chapel of rest were tampered with, exposing one man's face, before photographs were taken for the local newspaper.
But the report summary - published seven months after the events last January that led to the departure of chief executive Ken Williams - fails to identify who tampered with the bodies and gave the media access.
Given the timing of the breaches, the report said, 'it is most likely that the person or people who helped the press to gain entry were members of hospital staff ' but that 'as several former members of staff were not available to be interviewed, the investigation could not be properly concluded'.
The report said three of the permanent night porters at the time of the breaches of security had subsequently taken voluntary redundancy. 'A letter was sent to each of them requesting an interview: one declined and the others had not made any contact.'
Mr Williams, now chief executive of Eastern region (West) workforce confederation, told HSJ: ' I think what it does do is vindicate me. The situation was as I thought: it was engineered. . . it was very much an inside job.
'All they want to do is draw a line under it and get on. I do not feel bitter or vindictive about the way things are not being investigated. . . I want to draw a line under it too.'
Willy White, the Unison organiser who leaked the scandal to the media, criticised the inconclusive nature of the report. 'If there is evidence, as seems to be suggested, that bodies were tampered with, I would like the hospital to take that evidence to the police.'
But he said the departure of Mr Williams had contributed to 'radical' improvements in morale at the trust in recent months.
'I think it has helped to break that particular mould. It has been painful, but I think the change. . .
has been radical.'
Mr Richard Rawlins, a consultant at the trust and member of the British Medical Association's consultants committee, said: 'It is still unclear from the report the extent to which the trade union aided and abetted members of staff in sharing photos with the press.'
He added: 'There are many other hospitals around that have had to take recourse to similar [mortuary] arrangements. Those chief executives have not been forced to resign. Management should be in the hands of managers, not photographers.'
Two days before the summary was published, trust chair Professor Andy Blowers announced he was leaving the NHS to concentrate on existing academic commitments at the Open University.
He said that the last few months at the trust had been 'particularly challenging. The demands on trust chairs are also increasing to the point where individuals in full-time work will not be able to offer their experience'.