The joint chief executives of the National Patient Safety Agency have been put on 'extended leave' while an inquiry takes place into the running and structure of the organisation.

The joint chief executives of the National Patient Safety Agency have been put on 'extended leave' while an inquiry takes place into the running and structure of the organisation.

Sue Osborn and Susan Williams have been temporarily replaced by Bill Murray, former chief executive of South Tees Hospitals trust.

Ms Osborn and Ms Williams were put on extended leave early last month following a damning report from the Commons public accounts committee which questioned the agency's value for money and criticised it for providing 'only limited feedback' to NHS trusts on ways to reduce serious incidents.

The NPSA had also failed to evaluate and circulate patient safety solutions that had been developed at trust level, the report found.

An NPSA spokesperson said Mr Murray, who has worked in the health service for 38 years, took up his acting chief executive position on 31 July. 'Bill is covering the duties of NPSA joint chief executives Sue Osborn and Susan Williams, who are taking a period of extended leave,' she said.

Last month HSJ reported that an internal review had suggested slimming down the size of the NPSA in London to offer only core services, with much patient safety expertise moved to the NHS locally (news, page 13, 13 July).

A Department of Health spokesperson said: 'We are aware that an investigation is under way, but that it would be inappropriate to comment further until it is resolved.'