Failed NHS manager given job by sister-in-law's trust

A former NHS chief executive whose trust was embroiled in a superbug scandal two years ago was given another job working for the NHS – in a trust run by her sister-in-law.

Ruth Harrison, the former chief executive of Stoke Mandeville hospital, Buckinghamshire, where 33 people died in an outbreak of Clostridium difficile, received a £140,000 pay-off in a golden goodbye days before a damning report was published citing serious faults in her leadership.

But barely a year later she was appointed as lead consultant on a review of maternity services at Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust, whose chief executive, Samatha Jones, is related to her by marriage.

Ms Harrison, who works for the management consultants Durrow, stood down from the £52,000 contract after news of her appointment leaked last week but details of her relationship to Ms Jones have not emerged until now.

A former NHS manager, who did not wish to be named, said: "Ruth Harrison has no real experience in maternity services, so far as I know. I understand she has a living to earn but for her to pitch up in a discipline in which she has no real expertise and then turn out to be the sister-in-law of the person appointing her is absolutely outrageous."

MPs and health campaigners protested at her appointment last week, before they knew of her connection to Ms Jones. The Tories' health spokesman, Stephen O'Brien, accused the Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, of "failing to take in hand the merry-go-round of failed bureaucrats in our NHS."

He said yesterday: "What matters is that such jobs or even financial interests are given to a person whose track record was success in previous roles involving similar issues. How many chances are failed executives in our NHS to be given? In any company, such a track record would be curtains."

Michael Summers, of the Patients Association, said: "Patients may think it odd that those in charge of a major hospital leave it with infection rates soaring, leading to deaths and disabilities, and can later go on to obtain employment within the health service, advising patients on their health."

Ms Harrison was severely criticised in a report into C.difficile at Stoke Mandeville , which killed 33 and infected 334 over two years, by the Healthcare Commission, an independent inspectorate. The report, published in July 2006, said there were "serious management failures" when executives failed to follow advice on stopping infections and had "mistakenly prioritised" other objectives such as hitting government waiting list targets and curbing spending.

In a statement, Epsom and St Helier NHS trust said Samantha Jones, the chief executive, had declared her family connection to Ms Harrison to her own board and to the two primary care trusts who had jointly commissioned Durrow to review women and children's services.

"In view of the chief executive's declared position, the decision to appoint Durrow was agreed from an Epsom and St Helier perspective, by the trust chairman, John Davey. Following recent publicity about Ruth Harrison's involvement with the trust. Mr Davey reminded the board of Ms Jones' previously declared link to Ms Harrison at last week's trust board meeting," the statement said.

A spokesman for the trust said Ms Harrison had worked for a number of NHS organisations in a consultancy role since leaving Stoke Mandeville. "For some reason it blew up here. We are the ones who got it in the neck," he said. "This was not just about one organisation saying, 'Hey, come and work for us.' This was three organisations going through a proper tender process which Durrow won."

The review of maternity services by Durrow was continuing, but under the leadership of Nick Relph, a former chief executive of Thames Valley Strategic Health Authority, who had replaced Ms Harrison, he said.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

    £7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

    Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

    £27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

    Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

    Day In a Page

    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate