Pressure grows for Eastbourne DGH chairman to step down

Stuart Welling
Stuart Welling

Almost a week after DGH boss Darren Grayson resigned, pressure continues to grow on the hospital’s chairman Stuart Welling to step down.

Chief executive Mr Grayson announced his resignation last Wednesday evening and the NHS has confirmed he will work out his contract in another post within the organisation and will not receive a pay off when he leaves.

But while politicians and health watchdogs have welcomed him quitting his post, there have been renewed concerns with Mr Welling still at the helm. His contract was recently extended by the NHS Trust Development Authority.

On Wednesday night this week Eastbourne Borough Council said it was “concerned at the ongoing tenure” of Mr Welling, chairman of the trust which runs both the DGH and Conquest Hospital in Hastings.

He and Mr Grayson were criticised by the council and health watchdogs and there were calls for both to step down amid a vote of no confidence in leadership in May and a damning CQC report which rated the trust as inadequate.

The council says it is vital now that there is change at the top.

Newly-elected Liberal Democrat councillor Colin Swansborough said on Wednesday evening, “This council is renewing its concerns at the ongoing tenure of Stuart Welling and calls upon ESHT to engage with our Hospital Champion, Liz Walke and all interested parties to ensure the right chief executive is in position to secure a sustainable, fully functioning hospital.

“Eastbourne Borough Council pledges to support that process.”

Mr Grayson announced he was stepping down last week saying he could not give the “fresh focus and long-term commitment” to the improvements needed at the hospital.

In his statement he said, “Having been chief executive for five years and led the organisation through some significant change to improve the quality of our services for patients, I believe the time is right to hand the baton to the next leader to continue this journey of improvement.

“We have made a good start for our patients but there is much work still to do and this needs both a fresh focus and long term commitment to continuity that, after 14 years already as a chief executive in the NHS, i can’t give at this stage in my career.”

A spokesman for the NHS Trust Development Authority said, “Our experience of supporting change that benefits patients in challenged NHS Trusts has shown the importance of having some stable leadership in place while an ambitious improvement agenda is pursued.

“We invited Stuart Welling to continue in post as Chair for another 12 months to provide this stable leadership and in due course to support us to recruit his successor.

“This stability will be particularly important while the Trust recruits to the Interim Chief Executive post and focuses on delivering improvements for patients.”

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