A highly critical report into how a hospital trust built up more than £87m of debt has uncovered serious failings by its former chief executive and board.

The report into Bromley Hospitals trust, commissioned by the present board, found the former board had not "effectively looked at information about the financial position, did not respond when problems were reported and did not have an adequate financial strategy".

It also criticised official emails nicknaming John Watkinson, chief executive from May 2003 to December 2006, as "Borat" after the comedy character.

Code breach

Consultant and former NHS manager Michael Taylor, who led the review, concluded that the trust board during the period was in breach of the code of accountability for NHS boards and Mr Watkinson had breached the managers' code of conduct. He said in the report published last week: "I hold very serious concerns about Mr Watkinson's approach to financial management and the unprofessional behaviour among certain of his immediate subordinates."

But Mr Taylor said he believed Mr Watkinson and former chair Anthony Levy "had the best interests of patient care at heart".

Current interim chief executive Michael Marchment said: "We have taken on board all of the recommendations, and particularly that the trust needed to change its cost avoidance policy to a cost reducing policy, to ensure Bromley Hospitals can live within its means."

Royal Cornwall Hospitals trust, where Mr Watkinson is now chief executive, and NHS South West have announced a review into "whether issues of competence and behaviour highlighted in Bromley Hospitals" have occurred in its trust. An NHS South West spokeswoman said Mr Watkinson had been on annual leave since last week. He was unavailable for comment.