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Government announces inquiry into health boss’ sacking

18 June 2010

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Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has announced an inquiry into the unfair dismissal of the chief executive of NHS hospitals in Cornwall.

John Watkinson was suspended from his role at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust in 2008 after concerns about his management, and was sacked in April 2009.

An employment tribunal found last month that his dismissal had been “procedurally and substantively unfair”.

The hearing found that Mr Watkinson was sacked because he stood in the way of plans to transfer upper gastrointestinal (GI) cancer services out of Cornwall.

In a written statement to MPs, Mr Lansley said the tribunal found that Mr Watkinson was unfairly dismissed because he made a “protected disclosure” covered by the Public Interest Disclosure Act, which was linked to the reconfiguration of upper GI services.

The panel also found that the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust sacked Mr Watkinson “as a result of pressure” from the South West Strategic Health Authority, also known as NHS South West.

Mr Lansley (pictured) said: “I have asked Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS in England, to initiate a review into the approach and behaviour of the NHS South West in relation to Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, in particular to the dismissal of John Watkinson and, by association, the Trust’s position in relation to the provision of upper GI services in Cornwall.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010