WORKFORCE: The chief executive and acting chair of Birmingham Women’s Hospital Foundation Trust have left within a week of each other.

Chief executive Steve Peak left last Monday, six days after the trust’s annual general meeting on 13 September, which was adjourned halfway through when acting chairman Ian Booth unexpectedly announced his resignation.

Prof Booth had only been carrying out the role for two months following the retirement of Helen Hemberg, although he had worked as a non executive director at the trust for eight years.

Minutes from the 13 September meeting reveal a request had been submitted for an extraordinary board meeting.

The minutes state: “Before moving to the scheduled business of the meeting, Professor Booth made a statement to members’ council regarding the process of appointment to the chair of the trust, and also a requisition received for an extraordinary board meeting that had been received.

“He advised council that, in the circumstances, he was no longer able to accept any offer that they might make to be chair of the trust, and intended to resign as acting chair and as a director.

“Professor Booth then withdrew from the meeting. There was a short suspension of the meeting agreed by council.”

Non executive director Robin Rison then took over as chair and “he noted that the circumstances were most unusual”.

According to the minutes: “It was not felt appropriate to go into detail of the matters related to the request for an extraordinary board meeting, as they were matters that should appropriately be addressed in that forum; however, it was clear that council and the board would need to reflect on the points that had been made.”

Mr Peak took a new position at NHS West Midlands with immediate effect, working on service improvement and modernisation. He has been replaced on an interim basis by Ros Keeton, former Worcestershire Mental Health Partnership Trust chief excecutive. Her former trust was dissolved in July when its services were taken on by Worcestershire Health and Care Trust.

Birmingham Women’s had a £9,000 cumulative deficit at the end of May, rising to a £47,000 deficit by the end of June, making it £108,000 ahead of plan. Its savings plans are £75,000 behind plan, according to board papers. In the first quarter of 2011-12 its Monitor risk rating was amber.

Performance reports highlight six red risks, including one that was added in July: Underachievement of planned activity targets for hospital deliveries.

A problem revealed by HSJ in June, of midwifery staffing falling under national guidelines, is still “red rated” in July papers - the most recently published on the trust’s website.

HSJ has also previously reported how the trust believed it would struggle under the tariff for maternity services. The trust hosted the first meeting of the Maternity Alliance Network on 21 July, which discussed this and other issues affecting specialist hospitals.

Acting chairman Nigel Gardner said: “We are actively recruiting a new chair and hope to be able to announce the successful candidate this week.

“The trust recognises Mr Peak’s valuable contribution to during his time in office, particularly his engagement with patients and staff.

She added: “For Birmingham Women’s, it is business as usual. Our priority is to provide quality patient care and this continues. We have a maternity expansion scheme taking place to increase capacity to 8,000 deliveries per year and our £7m neonatal unit has now been open for one year with over 1,000 babies cared for during that time.

“The board is committed to ensuring the trust has a bright future and whilst there are challenges ahead, we have an excellent workforce to continue the good work of the Women’s.”

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