A trust that withdrew the offer of a chief executive's job two weeks after announcing the appointment has been told it should be open about the reasons.

Press releases about Jane Perrin's appointment at Trafford Healthcare trust had already been sent out when the trust withdrew the offer last week. It will not give a reason for the withdrawal or say whether it is linked to a drink-driving conviction Ms Perrin has or a long period of sick leave she had from a previous job.

Trust chair Fay Selvan said: "The appointment was made at a time when everything seemed to be in order. Subsequent concerns came to light that caused us to take decisive action and withdraw the offer.

"We followed rigorous recruitment processes and it was as a result of the processes that we were able to withdraw the offer." But the trust would not answer further questions "for legal reasons". Nor would it give a timetable for the replacement's recruitment.

Restore confidence

Jon Restell, chief executive of Managers in Partnership, said: "The trust needs to explain why it has done what it has. It must swiftly restore confidence among staff.

"As a general point, employers should not announce new employees until appointment procedures are completed. If they don't, they risk serious damage to reputation."

NHS employees are meant to undergo mandatory scrutiny, including Criminal Records Bureau, employment history and reference checks. NHS Employers says it is up to the employer to decide whether to take on someone with a conviction.

It is unusual for offers to be withdrawn, although the employment check standards published by NHS Employers do mention circumstances when the checks could lead to an offer being taken back. Employees should be informed that a job offer could be withdrawn if they knowingly withhold information or provide false or misleading information. And employers should make it clear that appointment is conditional on an occupational health check.

The job, which was expected to pay up to£150,000, was advertised in August. Ms Perrin's appointment was announced in a press release on 17 October. She was expected to take up the post by the end of the year.

Ms Perrin had been chief executive of the Whittington Hospital trust in London in the 1990s and then moved to Wales. After a period running a health authority, she became chief executive of Swansea trust in 2002 but was on sick leave from May 2006 until January 2007. She then left the trust but worked for a short period at the National Leadership and Innovation Agency in Wales.

Prior to accepting the Trafford job, she worked as a consultant in the North West. Her drink-driving offence was committed at Preston, Lancashire, in May 2006 - the month she went on sick leave.