Third Norfolk health chief quits

MARK NICHOLLS The troubled Norfolk Primary Care Trust has been rocked by another top-level departure.Director of Clinical Services Rob Colebrook has stepped down from the board of the trust and is to return to clinical practice.

MARK NICHOLLS

By Mark Nicholls

Health Correspondent

The troubled Norfolk Primary Care Trust has been rocked by another top level departure.

Director of Clinical Services Rob Colebrook has stepped down from the board of the trust and is to return to clinical practice.

It is the third high level departure from Norfolk PCT since it was formed out of five former county PCTs last October.

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Earlier this year director of commissioning Audrey Bradford and interim chief executive Hilary Daniels left their posts at short notice.

Initial reports suggested that Ms Daniels had left in what was described as an amicable agreement and amid claims her position had only ever been temporary.

But it later emerged, in details released to North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb under Freedom of Information legislation, that Ms Daniels was forced out by the East of England Strategic Health Authority because of ongoing concerns over the trust's poor financial performance and its £47m deficit.

That departure made way for the present chief executive Julie Garbutt who took up the interim post in February and was appointed on a permanent basis last month.

The director of commissioning post is still vacant, though the PCT says it is actively trying to appoint to the position.

Concerns over Dr Colebrook's future on the board began to emerge in recent weeks and heightened when he failed to appear among the executive directors at the most recent board meeting of the trust on March 27 when the crucial decision was taken to abandon plans for a new PCT headquarters at Dereham and keep its main base of operation in Norwich.

The PCT confirmed today that Dr Colebrook will be resigning from his management responsibilities and returning to clinical practice on May 31.

He took up post in the new PCT in October 2006 and during his time on the board he has been responsible for providing strategic leadership for all clinicians. However, Dr Colebrook has decided that he would like to return to using his skills in the direct care of patients.

Dr Colebrook said: “I would like to go back to the clinical work that I enjoy. I have learned an enormous amount whilst working in the PCT and I shall miss the camaraderie that exists within the organisation.”

Mrs Garbutt said: “We are sad to lose Rob and his extensive understanding of how GPs and other professionals can be involved in ensuring quality care for our patients. But we are very pleased that this is something Rob wants to do and we wish him well for the future.”

There are no immediate plans to fill the vacant post of Director of Clinical Services. Instead there will be “period of reflection” on the role and how it might work in the future.