An executive medical director has been excluded from work after a review of the culture at a troubled acute trust in the North West.

Rob Gillies will be excluded from Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals Trust while an independent “preliminary situational analysis” is carried out.

It follows a “cultural review” of the organisation led by diversity expert Professor Surinder Sharma from Leicester University.

The review was recommended by the Care Quality Commission after 30 consultants raised concerns about bullying and harassment, and feelings of unfair treatment among BME staff.

Mr Gillies’ absence follows the exclusion of four senior managers at the trust in 2015, including former chief executive Jonathan Parry, who was eventually dismissed for gross misconduct.

The trust has so far refused to publish further details about the review’s findings.

It said the exclusion is not a disciplinary sanction but a neutral action pending the completion of a preliminary situational analysis.

Trust chair Richard Fraser said: “The trust expects the preliminary situational analysis to be completed promptly, while, at the same time, ensuring the best interests of all parties are fairly served.

“I want to assure staff, patients, their families and the public that no aspect of the concerns raised relates to issues of patient care or safety.”

The trust’s future as an independent organisation is unclear. It has severe financial difficulties and is subject to a major review of services as part of the Cheshire and Merseyside sustainability and transformation plan. It has not had a permanent chief executive for two years.