Published: 20/03/2003, Volume II3, No. 5847 Page 8 9

The chair of the country's first private finance initiative hospital has quit, weeks after it lost its chief executive.

Barbara Cannon resigned as chair of North Cumbria Acute Hospitals trust on Thursday, less than a month after Nick Woods stood down ahead of a damning review by the Commission for Health Improvement.

But Ms Cannon has hit back at doctors at the trust who had put pressure on her to resign, accusing them of 'in-fighting' in a 'turf war' over whether services should be based at Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary or the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

She told local newspapers: 'I have been hounded out of this role by the pettiness of a few...What the consultants have to understand is that they are employees of the NHS, which belongs to everyone, and it is selfish of them to expect everyone to travel to Carlisle.

'The people of west Cumbria should be able to expect to have the best service they can. These consultants need to grow up.'

Consultant oncologist Dr Paul Dyson said the reaction to her resignation among his fellow doctors was one of 'euphoria'.

'The report by CHI did not criticise consultants, nurses, or any other medical staff in North Cumbria, but there was criticism of the management, ' he said.

He described Ms Cannon as 'a hands-on chairman' who behaved as if she was in operational charge of services.He insisted that Carlisle and Whitehaven consultants were working together to improve services and accused Ms Cannon of 'blaming everybody else but herself ' for the trust's problems.

Local MP Jack Cunningham - whose constituency includes West Cumberland Hospital - rallied to the support of Ms Cannon.

He told BBC Radio Cumbria that the loss of a 'decent and hard-working chair' so soon after the resignation of Mr Wood meant the trust was gaining a reputation for becoming 'ungovernable'.

'In the last two or three weeks, I've had many discussions with people at high levels, including the strategic health authority, and it was made clear that Barbara Cannon would continue in post and it was only because of the threats of motions of no-confidence from consultants that her position has changed.'

Ms Cannon was appointed chair two years ago when the new trust was created, and was previously chair of North Cumbria health authority.

The trust said Eric Urquhart, chair of North Cumbria Mental Health and Learning Disabilities trust, has agreed to act as interim chair.

North Cumbria Acute Hospitals trust director of finance Peter Scott - husband of Sue Page, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare trust - has been acting as chief executive of the trust since Mr Woods' departure.