Sir Richard Sykes, Chairman of Imperial College Healthcare Trust, shocked those attending the Imperial Board meeting yesterday when he announced that CEO, Ian Dalton, was leaving his post after less than 5 months in the job. Imperial, which runs west London hospitals, will now have to begin the long and costly process of finding yet another CEO.
Ian Dalton has now moved to NHS Improvement as their new CEO. NHSI is the body that, only last month, knocked back capital investment plans to reconfigure health delivery in outer NW London on the grounds that there was not sufficient evidence that these plans would work. This was the initial bid for capital funds to develop services which, local health bosses claim, would enable the safe closure of Ealing Hospital.
Dalton’s resignation followed almost immediately the well-attended and highly successful open event organised by Imperial management at Charing Cross Hospital. At that event Dalton outlined the excellent work being carried out at the hospital and gave an assurance that Charing Cross could not be closed in the foreseeable future without damaging public health. However, long-term closure plans have not been withdrawn by the CCGs in NW London: what we have is a ‘pause’, not a guarantee of the long-term future of Charing Cross as a major acute hospital.
The resignation occurs at a time of particular turbulence in upper management levels of the NW London NHS. Several key managers have left in recent months and other posts remain unfilled. Managers are caught between a government demand to cut costs even further and, among health professionals, a recognition of the growing need for better funded health services for a fast expanding population.
Merril Hammer, Chair of SOH, said she was stunned by the sudden departure of Ian Dalton. At the Imperial AGM held at St Pauls Church Hammersmith in September, he had outlined ambitious plans for engaging with the local health community.
Ms Hammer said:
I am, of course, pleased that Imperial has now declared a ‘pause’ on the closure but given the unprecedented pressure on the facilities at Charing Cross and the highly skilled committed staff there, health bosses need to stop long-term closure plans and not just ‘pause’ them.