Reaction as Eastbourne hospital boss quits

Darren Grayson
Darren Grayson

News that hospital boss Darren Grayson has resigned has been welcomed by politicians and health watchdogs.

The chief executive stood down last night – six weeks after a vote of no confidence in him and trust chairman Stuart Wellings.

MP Caroline Ansell said it was the only thing left for Grayson to do.

“Mr Grayson oversaw some of the DGH’s darkest days with the loss of important services. His leaving will not see many tears being shed.

“What we need now is new energy, new vision and a new spirit in the organisation – one which sweeps away the bullying culture reported by inspectors and embraces staff at all levels in the journey to improvement. I called before for Special Measures to secure the expertise we need to turn our hospital around and I have renewed that call today.

“I spoke this week with the Secretary of State for Health about the future of our hospital, and on Thursday this week I will be at the hospital to meet senior staff and will arrange to meet urgently with the Trust Development Agency which have immediate responsibility.

“What is vital is that we continue to press for the core services the Save the DGH campaign has always fought for; the services you need in an emergency.”

Liz Walke, chair of the Save the DGH Campaign, said, “At last. Excellent news that Darren Grayson has stepped down presumably without any payout as under his leadership the trust has been scored as inadequate with the lowest score possible for being well-led by the NHS Care Quality Commission recently.

“However this should be just the beginning and surely the whole trust board should go. They have been culpable in seeing the downgrading of our hospital and its services and have not done anything to stop it, in fact the reverse. We are concerned they do not appear to think they have done anything wrong judging by the press statement made. An apology and acknowledgement of failure is long overdue.

“We look forward to the possibility of working with the NHS organisations who make the appointments to get a chief executive, chair and a board of directors who are focussed on returning consultant-led maternity and paediatrics, high risk and emergency general surgery, high risk and emergency orthopaedics and trauma services to the DGH and returning the emergency stroke services to the Conquest which had been removed, and work with the staff and the local population of East Sussex and provide the safest services closer to home.

“Let’s hope a new day is dawning.”

Colin Belsey, a founder member of the Save the DGH campaign in 2006, said, “I am delighted Mr Grayson has decided to stand aside and give hopefully the time for the right person to be found and run the DGH and Conquest better than they have been.

“It is a long time since we led the first march in September 2006 and so much has happened, but, Liz Walke, my friend from all those days ago has carried on the fight, working with three different MPs and numerous members of the public and political colours.

“I now hope the right person is found to take ESHT forward, it will not be easy and let us not forget that certain things are probably now irreversible.”

Labour’s health spokesperson in East Sussex and a member of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee Michael Wincott said, “This resignation is long overdue and I’m glad Mr Grayson has finally decided to stand down. Perhaps now our hospital can get the type of leadership that will acknowledge failings, take responsibility and improve.

“I sincerely hope there will be no ‘golden goodbye’. When you’ve failed you should not be rewarded for walking away.

“One thing I do find utterly bizarre is that the chairman of the trust board Stuart Welling has had his contract extended by 12 months. He is as big a part of the problem as Mr Grayson was. It was his duty to monitor and scrutinise the leadership. He failed dramatically and he must go too.”

Former MP Stephen Lloyd said, “I am delighted Darren Grayson has finally gone. This is a chief executive who led a hospital trust that was lambasted by the CQC for providing inadequate leadership and yet appeared determined to hang on. “I’d been calling for his resignation for 18 months while still the MP so I do hope the Department of Health are not going to reward his obvious failure by giving him a huge payoff.

“Furthermore I believe the chairman of the trust Stuart Welling should also resign. He is just as culpable as Mr Grayson and I was absolutely staggered when I heard his contract had been extended by a year to, apparently, help the hospital secure a smooth handover. This to me is just plain wrong and I said so at the time. It’s a bit like putting the ‘other’ fox in charge of the henhouse after the first one has done the damage and sloped off.

“Stuart Welling should go so the NHS can bring in a new, competent team to give Eastbourne and our long-suffering Hospital and Community NHS staff the first class hospital we all deserve.”

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