Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust chief executive Lezli Boswell has become a regular at the local county council’s overview and scrutiny committee in recent months in the face of local uproar at a decision to postpone the reopening of a ward.

Medical ward 1 at West Cornwall Hospital was due to reopen on 5 November following refurbishment.

However, this plan was shelved only a few days after it was announced. The trust instead decided to keep more beds open at the main Royal Cornwall Hospital site 25 miles away.

The trust insists it is a temporary measure designed to cope with increased acuity over the winter period, but local campaigners are unconvinced.

Perhaps understandably suspicious – Royal Cornwall lost gastro-intestinal services without consultation in a saga that ended with the dismissal of chief executive John Watkinson – the Health Initiative Cornwall group has taken legal advice.

Group members told Cornwall’s health overview and scrutiny committee in November that they had been advised the ongoing closure of the ward constituted a service reconfiguration and so should be called in by the committee for scrutiny. Ms Boswell promised the ward would reopen by the end of March. Nevertheless she was summoned back before the committee again last week to provide an update.

Ms Boswell, who joined the trust in September on an interim basis from Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust, was confirmed as a permanent appointment last week. The trust has also appointed the former national heart disease director Roger Boyle as a non-executive director.