The implosion of relations between the leadership of United Lincolnshire Hospitals and NHS East Midlands is damaging the reputation of the NHS.

With a suspended chair, a chief executive on sick leave and accusations that the strategic health authority has been bullying the trust leadership, the row has immediately become a party political football.

The headlines say the dispute is about pressure on the trust to hit targets, but that is an inadequate explanation.

Whatever the pressures, there must be underlying fractures in the dealings between the two sides for this to erupt so publicly.

The Department of Health needs to bring its investigation into the SHA’s behaviour to a rapid conclusion and ensure any lessons about relations between trusts and SHAs are seen to be acted upon.

It should never have got this bad.