An independent report has accused the chief executive and board members at Royal Cornwall Hospitals trust of serious failures.

The review was commissioned by the trust and NHS South West after its chief executive, John Watkinson, was heavily criticised in a report on his previous trust, Bromley Hospitals.

The review said the “direction of travel of the leadership and management of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals trust is ‘towards corporate failure’,” and “the trust board and chief executive have failed to sufficiently follow the spirit of the codes of conduct for NHS boards and managers”.

The trust’s medical director, Dominic Byrne, has resigned because he “felt unable to accept [the report’s] conclusion”.


Mr Watkinson has been suspended since the Bromley report was published and the trust said he remained suspended.

Interim chief executive Peter Colclough said: “The board of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals trust met to discuss the report and fully accepted the findings.

“The board welcome the fact that it recognises that progress has recently been made, particularly in financial management, nursing and human resources.

“The time is now right to act on its 27 recommendations so that we create the right environment to enable us to deliver all the national service standards and targets and live within our means.”

‘Difficult reading’

NHS South West chair Sir Michael Pitt said: “The findings make difficult reading but reflect that the Royal Cornwall Hospitals trust enjoys enormous support from its community.

“The report raises serious concerns and we are absolutely committed to helping the trust act upon the report’s recommendations so that it delivers services that match the very best across the South West.”

The trust said Mr Colclough remained interim chief executive.

New chair

It has also announced the appointment of a former non-executive board member, Martin Watts, as its new chair. He said: “I am very pleased to be returning to the trust in the capacity of chairman.

“Without doubt, I am passionate about securing a stable and sustainable future for the trust; one that is so richly deserved by its hard working and committed staff and not least its patients and people across Cornwall. We must now seize the opportunity to look forward and concentrate on the work that will be needed to see the trust achieve that aim.”

Read the full report.