Chairman John Hemming resigns from Norfolk’s James Paget Hospital

The chairman of the James Paget University Hospital has today announced his resignation.

John Hemming announced to hospital staff and governors his decision to resign with immediate effect from today and thanked all the staff for their support and hard work.

Mr Hemming came under fire from MPs last week, who questioned his ability to lead the Gorleston hospital, following two failed Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections into dignity, privacy and nutrition - the second of which prompted the CQC to issue a formal warning to the hospital, saying it must make urgent improvements to standards of care.

Mr Hemming, 70, was appointed chairman of the James Paget in November 2003 and under his chairmanship the trust became the first hospital in Norfolk and Suffolk to achieve NHS Foundation Trust status in 2006.

Mr Hemming said: 'I am proud to have been a very small part of what the James Paget has achieved over the past eight years.

'Patient safety and patient care has always been at the centre of our agenda and we have seen advances in medicine and surgery that have improved outcomes and life expectations.

'We have a workforce that is dedicated and professional, that strives to do the best for patients. We became the first NHS Foundation Trust in Norfolk and Suffolk and have a very supportive Governors Council, representing our members' interests.

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'As a founder member of the UEA Medical School we provide around a third of medical training, helping staff and patients.

'I am standing down as chairman as I am seen politically as a hindrance to improving patient care for the vulnerable and elderly, which is unacceptable to me. I hope that my successor will be able to accelerate the improvements we are making to ensure the trust achieves all the required outcomes for CQC inspection.

'The adverse publicity is affecting the trust, causing patients and the local population to have unnecessary concerns about the quality of care in the Paget. The trust has an excellent low mortality rate, in the top 14 trusts in England, registers highly in inpatient surveys and on our local real time patient feedback tools and receives many letters from visitors praising the level of care and comparing it favourably to their local hospital.

'It has been a privilege and an honour to serve the trust.'

Retired consultant surgeon and lead governor Hugh Sturzaker said: 'John has informed the governors that he felt he had no option but to resign in the best interests of the hospital, patients and staff.

'As elected representatives of the local community the governors voiced their unanimous support for John and did ask him to consider staying.

'We do, however, understand his decision and we would like to pay tribute to his tireless championing of the interests of the hospital, our patients and staff. Recent events have been difficult for everyone but the James Paget is a first class hospital with highly dedicated and hardworking staff.'

The governors of the James Paget University Hospital will decide on the appointment of an interim chairman later this week.

Wendy Slaney, chief executive, said: 'I am very sad indeed that John Hemming has taken the decision to relinquish his post. We are losing a fine chairman and a great champion for our patients and staff.

'John's commitment and contribution has been of the highest order. Under his chairmanship we became the first hospital in Norfolk to be granted NHS foundation trust status.

'His leadership and influence has greatly supported the achievements of the health care system across Great Yarmouth and Waveney. John leaves the trust having ensured a strong foundation for the future of health care in our community.'

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