Former Lincolnshire NHS chief Gary Walker calls for current chief executive to be suspended
Former United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust chief executive Gary Walker has called for the current incumbent of the role to be suspended.
In an open letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, seen by the Echo, Mr Walker claimed he received a letter from ULHT lawyers before speaking to the BBC Today programme forbidding him from talking to the media about his concerns for patient safety.
It read: "Having seen an outline of the issues, we have advised our client that if you have provided an interview or should this interview proceed you will be in clear breach of the agreement and as a result the Trust would be entitled to recover from you the payments made under the agreement and any costs including its legal costs."
The letter does not make it clear whether "the issues" refer to patient safety issues, or issues relating to Mr Walker's employment.
He received a further letter from lawyers three days later which read: "The Trust confirms that the Compromise Agreement was never intended to prevent you from raising matters of public interest about patient safety concerns."
A similar statement was issued by ULHT to the media.
The ULHT chief executive Jane Lewington sent an email to the 8,000 Trust staff and volunteers which reads: "Much of the coverage is focused on allegations that the Trust has tried to stop Mr Walker raising concerns about patient safety.
"This is not the case.
"It was never intended to gag concerns regarding patient safety.
"So if you hear such rumours or false impressions, please take the opportunity to set the record straight."
But Mr Walker believes Ms Lewington has breached the NHS Code of Conduct for Managers.
"I believe the health trust has been less than completely truthful on the subject," he said.
"I feel that the only appropriate response to Jane Lewington's comments is to suspend her pending a full investigation.
"It seems as if they are trying to rewrite history when you compare the two letters I had from their lawyers."
The Echo forwarded Mr Walker's allegations to the trust for comment. Farrukh Tariq, spokesman for ULHT, responded by saying: "We're focussing on delivering the best possible care for our patients.
"We have made our position clear about Mr Walker's ability to speak freely on patient safety."