Monday, 23 September 2013

Lay Chair of North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group Should Resign over Conflicts of Interest

On BBC West’s Sunday Politics programme this weekend, Health Correspondent Matthew Hill reported on the damaging conflicts of interest facing two board members of Weston Area Health Authority, John Underwood and Kathy Headdon.  

Mrs Headdon, who is also the Chair of the North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group works as a consultant for Capita Symonds.  Capita Group is one of the private companies which has expressed an interest in bidding to take over the running of Weston General Hospital.

On Sunday’s BBC programme, Charlotte Leslie, Conservative MP for Bristol North West, described the conflict of interest for Mrs Headdon as “a huge problem”.  Mrs Headdon has a key role in the future of Weston General as Chair of the Stakeholder and Quality Assurance Group at Weston Area Health Trust which is supposed to provide an independent perspective to the project board on the bids, both private and NHS, to take over the running of our hospital.

Weston General Hospital Campaign spokesman, Steve Timmins, said: 

We are calling on Mrs Headdon to do the proper thing here and stand down from her posts as it is quite clear that she cannot be independent in her role in stakeholder and quality assurance in the tender process for Weston General Hospital if she is a consultant with one of the potential bidders.  Neither can she easily claim to be objective in one of  her CCG roles as representative for Patient and Public Engagement.

Malcolm Wing, a national advisor on procurement to UNISON, said:

It would clearly undermine public confidence in the impartiality of the procurement process at Weston General Hospital if Kathy Headdon remains as chair of the Board overseeing the tender process.  In fact she should step down from the Board completely.  Her continued presence creates a risk that her professional judgement or actions will be influenced by her employment by Capita.  Any perception that she is not completely independent and impartial will be damaging to the credibility of the decision finally made. 

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