this week

The launch of one of Wales' most prominent trusts has been marred by a failure to appoint a chief executive from two high-profile candidates.

The new Cardiff trust, formed by the merger of University Hospital of Wales trust and Llandough Hospital and Community trust, was due to take effect today with an acting chief executive in place.

A statement issued on Monday said Jonathon Davies, deputy chief executive of UHW trust, would take up the interim appointment after 'the board decided not to offer the chief executive's post to either of the two candidates'.

They were Allister Stewart, current chief executive of UHW trust and chair of the Institute of Health Services Management in Wales, and Dr Norman Mills, current chief executive of Llandough.

The statement continues: 'In coming to its decision, the appointment board had been informed that Mr Stewart was anxious to further his career elsewhere, after four years at the helm of Wales' largest trust.'

However, trust sources said privately that Mr Stewart was not going 'anywhere specific' and would be 'looking for a job'.

A trust chair described the situation in Cardiff as 'a total shambles' and suggested political manoeuvring was responsible.

The merger was announced three weeks ago, after a second period of public consultation on possible trust reconfiguration in Cardiff. It generated opposition from people living in the area served by Llandough.

Welsh secretary Alun Michael said Llandough's chair, David Durham, would lead the merged organisation.

It is widely thought that Mr Stewart was not happy with this appointment.

In its statement, the new board 'paid tribute' to both Mr Stewart and Dr Mills for 'steering their trusts through a difficult period of change'.

The new trust is not the only merged organisation in Wales to go live with questions about its leadership.

A single trust for Gwent was set to start work today without a chair after Peter Law, chair of Gwent Community Health trust and chair-designate of the new organisation, stepped down to run for the Welsh assembly.

HSJ understands that Dr Gareth Jones, chair of Neville Hall and District trust, which is also involved in the Gwent merger, turned down the job as 'undoable'.

'We have just gone through huge upheaval and want to get on with it,' said a trust spokesperson. 'But we are still waiting to get there.'