Northallerton Health Services trust is facing tough questions over why it gave gynaecologist Richard Neale a £100,000 payoff, bought his private consulting rooms and gave him a reference that allowed him to practise at other hospitals.

Thirty-three allegations of bad practice brought against Mr Neale by women patients were found proven by the General Medical Council last week after a six-week hearing.

Further hearings to determine whether he should be struck off the medical register were taking place this week. Trust chief executive Tony Bruce refused to comment until these were complete. But Stephen Spoerry, director of operations at the Friarage Hospital, told HSJ last week: 'Any complaints about Mr Neale were received after his departure.'

Mr Neale arrived at the Friarage Hospital in 1986 from Canada, where he had been struck off. The hospital found no reason to question his clinical competence, although it said there were complaints about his rude manner. In 1995, the hospital started disciplinary procedures.

As a result of legal advice that this could take years, with Mr Neale suspended on full pay, they decided to pay him off with£100,000 and give him a reference. They also bought his private consulting rooms for£56,000 to ensure he left the area.