Top doctors put the writing on the wall for Norfolk & Norwich hospital chief Anna Dugdale

PUBLISHED: 06:09 29 June 2015 | UPDATED: 08:27 29 June 2015

Anna Dugdale resigned as chief executive of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Thursday night. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Anna Dugdale resigned as chief executive of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Thursday night. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY


On Friday morning patients and visitors at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital had no idea that a few hours earlier the fate of the long-serving chief executive had been sealed.

On Thursday evening, consultants held a meeting which would see Anna Dugdale decide to leave 24 hours later.

Angered at the way senior management had responded to allegations of bullying made by regulators, around 150 consultants met and decided to take matters into their own hands.

It was time for change at the top.

They agreed their course of action and the next day they made chairman John Fry – a strong supporter of Mrs Dugdale – aware of their feelings.

A board meeting was held in private that afternoon.

The next morning – at 6.20am – Mrs Dugdale emailed staff to announce her resignation, before they saw that day’s EDP, with the words “A personal message” in the subject line. A statement from Mr Fry in that email to staff was rightly full of praise for Mrs Dugdale.

The hospital has expanded and developed under her leadership.

Some staff will view her departure with reluctance, but having lost the support and confidence of her leading consultants, Mrs Dugdale had no choice. She has led the hospital for six years, during the most difficult time in the history of the NHS.

The N&N has stayed out of special measures in that period, but it is now looking less healthy.

Regulators Monitor and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are both concerned about the N&N.

Earlier in June, a CQC report raised the issue which lead to Mrs Dugdale’s resignation – a “bullying culture” at the hospital which they say comes from the highest level of management. The board was also criticised.

Staff are under severe pressure to meet national NHS targets and therein lies the N&N’s and Mrs Dugdale’s second problem – it’s not meeting key targets for A&E waiting times and treatment times – and hasn’t been for a long time. It also has a third problem – finances.

It needs to make savings of £21m this year, which will still leave it with a deficit of around £33.7m.

And areas it can cut are restricted by its private finance initiative (PFI) which means more than £43m –around 13pc of its budget – is being spent each year to pay back the company which built the hospital in 2001.

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