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NHS Trust boss Gary Walker sacked for swearing

An NHS chief executive has been sacked for swearing too much at work.

Gary Walker, who was credited with turning around the debt-laden United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, was dismissed for using bad language after four years in the post.

The 39-year-old father of two was ousted from his £150,000-a-year job last Wednesday and the Trust announced it was recruiting a replacement.

Mr Walker said: "I am devastated by the trust's decision last week.

"I intend to appeal the decision and cannot therefore comment further, although I understand they have started recruiting a replacement CEO.

"As the disciplinary process has not yet completed, this move is clearly prejudicial to me and a further example of their determination to remove me from my post."

The sacking comes just seven months after the trust's chairman David Bowles resigned because, he said, he was being put under pressure to meet targets.

Mr Bowles criticised the sacking of Mr Walker, alleging he had lost his job because he refused to be a "yes-man" and wanted to put patient safety before meeting targets.

He said: "He didn't swear a lot and when he did, it wasn't at anyone, I think it was more out of frustration at things that happened. He was no Gordon Ramsay."

The swearing, he said, was just an excuse to get rid of him.

"Gary's very strong advice was that trying to meet the targets would put patients at risk because the hospital was running at 100% capacity," he added.

"He said that until new wards were built, targets would have to come second to patient safety.

"The NHS has become absolutely target-obsessed. I don't think Gary was prepared to play this game."

The targets include a maximum number of days within which patients should be seen for non-urgent appointments.

Phil Scarlett, who resigned as non-executive director of the trust on December 23 last year, also lent his support to Mr Walker.

He said: "Gary has done an absolutely sterling job. He's turned the trust around and to deal with him this way is shabby.

"If everyone was sacked for swearing then we wouldn't have many passionate and determined leaders in this country. Indeed we wouldn't have most MPs or celebrities.

"As I understand, Gary never swore at anyone."

The trust said it could neither confirm or deny the reason for Mr Walker's departure as it had a duty of confidentiality.

A spokeswoman said: "He left the trust on February 3 and we will now begin the process of recruiting a new chief executive to lead the trust.

"In the interim, the current management arrangements, with Bernard Chalk as acting chief executive, will remain."

The trust rejected the allegation that starting the process of appointing a new chief executive would adversely affect Mr Walker's appeal.

The spokeswoman added: "We are following due process to appoint a new chief executive. At present Mr Walker has not informed the trust that he intends to appeal.

"The process to recruit to this post could take up to three months and if any appeal takes place the outcome will be known before the appointment is made."

Mr Walker grew up on various inner London council estates with his single mother.

At the age of 35 he was appointed chief executive of Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust before going on to manage Lincolnshire's hospitals a year later.