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Calls for a public inquiry into 'a bitter story' of 'incompetence, mismanagement (and) intrigue' at a community trust were last week rejected by health minister John Denham.

In an adjournment debate Nigel Evans, Conservative MP for Chorley Ribble, demanded 'a full independent inquiry' into the dismissal of three non- executive directors of Guild Community Health Care trust.

Last month health secretary Frank Dobson asked the non-executive board - which was divided over the suspension of chief executive Les Howell - to resign.

Three members who had supported Mr Howell's suspension refused to stand down and were sacked by North West regional office on the orders of Mr Dobson. Last week Mr Howell was dismissed.

Mr Evans said a public inquiry was needed to investigate 'too many unanswered questions (which) still hang over the affair'.

But Mr Denham rejected his demand. 'I cannot see how a further inquiry into events at the Guild trust would play any constructive role in enabling the new board and those who work for the trust to meet the needs of patients and develop services in the area,' he said.