Published: 07/11/2002, Volume II2, No. 5830 Page 8

The government standards watchdog says it is to consider allegations that it is unethical for two former NHS chief executives to profit from the£600m private finance initiative bid to rebuild their old hospital.

The bid by Skanska/Innisfree to rebuild Barts and the London trust was referred to the Committee on Standards in Public Life by City and Hackney community health council last month. The CHC told HSJ it believed it was 'unethical' for former chief executives with intimate knowledge of trust finances to be involved in the bid.

The Skanska/Innisfree bid is being managed by Health Care Projects, which was set up by former Barts and the London chief executive Gerry Green. Another former chief executive of Barts, Ray Pett, is a director of HCP, which is 80 per cent owned by investment company Innisfree. If the bid is successful, HCP stands to make an annual management fee of£350,000-a-year.

Former trust chair Sir Derek Boorman is also a director of HCP, which also employs other former Barts and the London staff.

Both HCP and Skanska/Innisfree deny any wrongdoing and say the relationships were all made public before their bid was put forward.

In a letter to the CHC this week, standards commissioner Sir Nigel Wicks said though the committee did not examine individual cases, 'NHS bodies are included in our remit to examine current concerns about standards of conduct of all holders of public office'. Sir Nigel said he would take the comments of the CHC into account when planning its future work programme.

Meanwhile, current trust chair Martin Vandersteen announced last week that he will be stepping down when his current term of office ends in March 2003.

Mr Vandersteen joined the trust in January 2001 after Department of Health troubleshooters were called in to investigate a number of key areas including pressure in intensive care beds.At the time, he agreed to a two-year term of office with a brief to steer the trust through the changes, identified in the troubleshooters' review.

Trust chief executive Paul White said: 'I am extremely sorry to lose Martin but respect his wish to stand by his original term of office. Martin has been an excellent leader for the trust board and his work has clearly assisted in securing the exciting future now ahead of us.'