MP’s “surpise” at health boss resignation

Gordon Birtwistle.'Photo Ben Parsons
Gordon Birtwistle.'Photo Ben Parsons
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Burnley MP and hospital campaigner Gordon Birtwistle admitted he was “surprised” to learn that local health boss Mark Brearley had resigned.

Mr Mark Brearley resigned with immediate effect on Friday from his role as chief executive of the under-fire East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

The Burnley Express recently reported calls for him to resign following the Trust being placed in special measures as a result of the Keogh Review.

Former Burnley MP Peter Pike led the calls when the Care Quality Commission criticised the Royal Blackburn Hospital’s emergency services.

But Mr Birtwistle said: “I am surprised at Mr Brearley’s decision to resign. He came in at a terrible time and followed two of the worst chief executives, in my opinion, there could have been.

“The rot had set in and he was left with a number of senior managers not up to the job, which he had to replace.

“I think he was on the right track in helping to solve the problems at the Trust which basically stem from the Royal Blackburn Hospital being overworked. He was working to bring more services back to Burnley General Hospital, and I hope whoever replaces him will continue to do that.”

But former Labour MP Mr Pike said that Mr Brearley had lost the public’s confidence.

He said: “He clearly lost the confidence of the public of East Lancashire. As a head man, the responsibility lied with him.

“It was inevitable that he had to go. From a personal point, I am sorry to see this, but for the future of the people in Burnley and Blackburn, this was absolutely essential.

“I hope that the Trust can now find a new chief executive as soon as possible.”

Mr Brearley, who had more than 30 years’ experience in the NHS, had led the Trust since May 2011.

Acting Trust chairman Mr Martin Hill thanked Mr Brearley for his work and said that he had been critical in addressing issues highlighted by the Keogh Review.

The Trust will appoint a replacement in the New Year, with Jonathan Wood, the director of Finance, becoming acting chief executive for the immediate future.