Health authority executive suspended: Judy Jones reports on a health chief who appointed his wife to senior job and employed chauffeur

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The Independent Online
A HEALTH authority executive who employed a personal chauffeur and recruited his wife into a senior management post has been suspended on full pay from his pounds 56,000-a-year job.

Lieutenant Colonel Terry Knott, a former member of the Royal Marines and a Falklands war veteran, was suspended from his post as chief executive of the West Sussex Family Health Services Authority, in charge of a pounds 90m budget, two weeks ago. However, news of his departure was disclosed to members of the authority only last Thursday.

Neither Ann Swain, the authority's chairman, who suspended Lt Col Knott, nor the South West Thames Regional Health Authority would comment yesterday.

However, NHS sources point to clashes between the chief executive, who was appointed to the authority four years ago, and the chairman over staff appointments and the future direction of the authority.

It was disclosed last autumn that Lt Col Knott, 49, who holds the Military Cross, had in 1990 appointed his wife, Siri, as a personnel manager and had hired a part-time personal chauffeur. The chauffeur and Mrs Knott left the authority in February after a review of staffing initiated by Mrs Swain.

Baroness Cumberlege, Under-Secretary for Health, is understood to have expressed concern over the appointments. Lt Col Knott, is also known to have ruffled feathers among West Sussex general practioners with what some have described as his 'abrasive' style. The FHSA oversees the work of the 1,200 family doctors, dentists and pharmacists employed in West Sussex.

In an interview published yesterday by the Chichester News, Lt Col Knott said: 'I am still under contract, but we are negotiating a peaceful settlement for a parting of the ways.

'We have agreed that we cannot go on as we are. The chairman and the chief executive must work hand in glove.'