WORKFORCE: Three non-executive directors at Plymouth Hospitals Trust have resigned and clinicians are threatening to write to the health secretary in protest at the appointment of a chair with no NHS experience.

Richard Crompton, a former chief constable, was announced as trust chair at a board meeting this morning. He will be the trust’s third chair in two years.

Acting chair Peter Burroughs, a former finance director at University College London Hospital Foundation Trust, who also applied for the substantive post, resigned his position on the board on hearing of the appointment.

All four remaining board members publicly criticised the appointment at this morning’s meeting with two, David Pond and Lee Pascillades, choosing to resign with immediate effect.

In his statement (read it now, attached right) to the trust board Mr Pond described it as “perverse” that the appointments commission had chosen a candidate who had “never set foot inside the trust”, had no NHS background, currently lives in Lincolnshire and will be unable to start until August.

He said the trust had a “massive financial challenge”, was “struggling to achieve consistency in a number of service areas” and did not have time to waste.

The trust failed the four-hour A&E standard in quarter four and was fined by NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly for its 18-week backlog.

HSJ understands many clinicians at the trust are also angry at the appointment and are planning to write to health secretary Andrew Lansley to complain about the decision.

The trust has been without a substantive chief executive since Paul Roberts left last to July to lead a health board in Wales. A recruitment process last year failed to appoint.

HSJ understands there was a disagreement between then NHS South West chief executive Sir Ian Carruthers, who favoured Taunton and Somerset Foundation Trust chief Jo Cubbon, and then trust chair Commodore Steven Jermy, who wanted to appoint acting chief executive Helen O’Shea. Mr Jermy resigned soon after, less than a year into a four-year appointment.

The trust is due to submit its foundation trust application in October.

Mr Pond, who is chief executive of Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby, told HSJ resigning had not been an easy decision to make.

He added: “I just don’t believe we can make any impact with the situation we have been given. Now is not the time to waste another four or five months.”