WORKFORCE: A former nursing director has been suspended by the Nursing and Midwifery Council after a report exposed serious failings at Liverpool Community Health Trust.

Helen Lockett, who resigned from the trust in 2014, was handed an interim suspension order by the NMC last week after the regulator launched an investigation into her actions at the trust.

In March a governance review by Capsticks heavily criticised the trust and its former board for serious failures it likened to those found at the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

The report said the pursuit of aggressive savings and foundation trust status between 2011 and 2014 led to a culture of bullying and harassment and substandard patient care. It also criticised board members for downgrading risks and incidents, with information kept from non-executive board members.

After the CQC raised concerns about the trust’s culture and staffing in 2014, Ms Lockett resigned along with trust chief executive Bernie Cuthel and human resources director Michelle Porteus.

Since then HSJ understands Ms Lockett has been working as a management consultant.

An interim orders panel convened by the NMC on 5 April agreed to suspend Ms Lockett’s registration for 18 months but the NMC has refused to reveal specific details about the case against her.

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper, who made the initial complaint against Ms Lockett, told HSJ: “I hope this will send a signal to all other professional bodies, regulators and commissioners that the [Liverpool Community Health Trust] case cannot be swept under the carpet. To do so fails patients and staff.”

A spokesman for the trust said: “In line with the [Capsticks] report’s recommendations, we sent the review’s findings to health regulators, including the NMC, to enable them to determine whether they need to take action around any senior managers who were at the trust when the problems occurred.

“The report also found that the trust has turned an important corner since changing direction two years ago and investing heavily in safe staffing levels, with more than 150 nurses, health visitors and other clinicians recruited.

“As part of this change, the trust’s board looks very different to how it did in April 2014. There is an entirely new executive director and non-executive director team.”