RESIGNATION Welwyn Hatf ield PCT boss leaves post pledging 'debt of gratitude' to staff

Published: 26/05/2005, Volume II5, No. 5957 Page 7

Welwyn Hatfield primary care trust chief executive Peter Horbury was the subject of an investigation by police before his resignation from the organisation earlier this month.

Bedfordshire Police spokeswoman Jo Hobbs told HSJ: 'I can confirm that a man was arrested at the end of February 2005 by officers from the Bedfordshire Police child protection team. He was bailed and on March 24, following a detailed investigation, was offered a caution relating to possession of indecent images.' The PCT suspended Mr Horbury on March 1, shortly after his arrest.

He resigned on May 6. Mr Horbury has been cautioned, but has not been charged with any offence.

In his resignation letter, Mr Horbury said he was leaving the PCT 'with the deepest regret'.

'I owe a debt of gratitude to many of the staff in the trust and have enjoyed every minute of my time with you all. My resignation will take effect immediately and this will allow me to follow the very positive plans that my family and I have on the horizon, ' he said.

PCT chair Carol Sherriff, in a note to staff, wished Mr Horbury well for the future, and praised his contribution, describing him as 'a significant player in our development'. She added: 'This has been an unsettling time. I would like to thank you for remaining focused and continuing to deliver the high quality services our patients expect.' The PCT refused to comment on the circumstances surrounding Mr Horbury's resignation. Jayne Clarke, the PCT's head of corporate affairs, denied all knowledge of police involvement: 'We know nothing about a police investigation. I really cannot comment on this at all. We are tying to run this organisation for local people and it is really important we get on with it.' PCT finance director Noreen Coles and director of primary care and service development Clare Steward will continue as joint acting chief executives 'for the time being', according to Ms Sherriff's note.

Mr Horbury was appointed chief executive of the PCT on its inception in April 2001. He started his career in retail management before moving into healthcare as business manager of three West End GP practices. He then spent seven years with a healthcare consultancy.

HSJ was unable to reach Mr Horbury for comment.