NHS trust chief quits after vote by doctors

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THE CHAIRMAN of an NHS trust resigned yesterday after a unanimous vote of no confidence by 76 hospital consultants following growing antagonism over working practices.

John Spiers - who was chairman of Brighton Health Care NHS Trust and a member of the Prime Minister's citizen's charter advisory panel - said he was resigning with the 'deepest regret and sadness'. It is the first time a trust chairman has resigned following such a vote by doctors, and underlines mounting dissatisfaction among NHS doctors over the power of managers.

Earlier this year, Mr Spiers put himself in a wheelchair and arrived incognito at the accident and emergency department of the Royal Sussex County Hospital to test the services offered to a disabled person. He also wore distorting glasses to visit the Sussex Eye Hospital. On neither occasion was he satisfied with his reception.

He has also been keen to introduce individual assessment of doctors' performance and has been exploring ways of changing consultants' contracts with the aim of replacing tenure for life with five-year rolling contracts.

Anger among the Brighton consultants came to a head with the publication in the BMA News Review in July of an interview in which Mr Spiers described doctors who did not come up to the mark on patient care as 'dangerous'.

A statement issued by the consultants said the no confidence motion had not been about the trust's initiatives and objectives but 'about the chairman's management style that has been consistently confrontational'.

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