Ken Williams' wife Jenny is director of health improvement and commissioning at Milton Keynes primary care trust.

She said the couple had received over 200 personal letters and messages of support, a petition supporting Mr Williams had received 800 signatures within the hospital 'and he has the unanimous support of the consultant staff - it is not often a chief executive can claim that'.

'There is not a working day in the past 10 years when Ken has not left the house in Bedford by 7am or returned before 7pm.

'He has been at his desk every Sunday without fail. His colleagues at the hospital and within the health service have acknowledged his dedication and 30 years of service to the NHS.'

She added: 'Having given 20 years of my own life to NHS management, I find myself considering my own future.'

Chief executive of neighbouring Luton and Dunstable Hospital trust Stephen Ramsden told HSJ that Mr Williams had lost his job 'because politicians, the media and society insist on finding a scapegoat, someone to blame when something goes wrong'.