Published: 17/04/2003, Volume II3, No. 5851 Page 6 7

News that Dr Peter Homa will not now lead the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection as chief inspector has sent shock waves around scrutiny bodies.

At the Commission for Health Improvement, commission members privately admitted they were angry about the decision to ask Dr Homa to resign - and the way the information emerged, with the story leaked to the press before CHI's staff had been briefed.

Several commission members told HSJ they were dismayed at the loss of Dr Homa.

Some expressed concerns about the way CHAI was being run, with the role of chair being treated as an executive role, despite the fact it was made by the NHS appointments committee, which has responsibility for non-executive roles.

The time commitment for the role was defined as four to five days a week.

One commission member said there was concern at the top of the Department of Health that ministers had 'chosen the wrong model'.

And some members of both old and new commissions questioned why the chemistry between the pair had not been fully explored during the recruitment process, before Dr Homa was given the job two months ago.

Stephen Thornton, recently appointed as a commission member for CHAI, said: 'There are questions to be asked about the appointment process, and why it did not reveal these problems.'

CHI medical director Linda Patterson said the situation was 'very sad because, having worked with Peter for three years, I know he is a wonderful leader and a man of integrity'.

Linda Pepper, a commission member and chief officer of Trafford community health council, said: 'I think Peter is a leader and that style has permeated the organisation'.

'I am sure staff are unsettled. It was comforting to know Peter would be going to CHAI. Now he is not there, there will be questions about what the style the new organisation will have.'

Former CHI commission member Professor David Kerr was 'gobsmacked' by the news. Describing Dr Homa as an 'outstanding public servant' who was 'morally and intellectually rigorous', Professor Kerr said the resignation 'sends out a confused message to the health community, about what kind of body they are trying to create'.