Monday, 12 October 2009

NHS boss gave Birmingham Children's Hospital job reference for future fiancee


Oct 11 2009 by Jeanette Oldham, Sunday Mercury

FORMER ASSISTANT RECOMMENDED FOR TOP POSTS

THE boss of the NHS in England supplied two hospital job references for the woman who is now his fiancee, the Sunday Mercury can reveal.

David Nicholson, 52, recommended former assistant Sarah Jane Marsh, 32, for top posts at Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. But the NHS chief executive, who earns £207,000 per year, has denied the pair were in a relationship when he gave the high-flyer his professional backing.

Last week, we revealed that the divorced father-of-two had become engaged to Ms Marsh, who was recently appointed chief executive of Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH).

The attractive brunette has risen to the top tier of the NHS only ten years after graduating with a Master’s Degree. Her first ‘temporary’ job after leaving university in 1999 was as a complaints co-ordinator for a telesales firm. But after enrolling on the NHS Graduate Trainee Scheme in 2000 she became assistant general manager for trauma and orthopaedics at Worcester Hospitals NHS Trust.

Denied

But Mr Nicholson denied they were lovers at the time in a statement to the Sunday Mercury. He said: ‘‘As a former employer, I agreed to provide a reference for a position at Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust and the Chief Operating Officer position at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. We were not in a relationship then. I did not provide a reference for the Chief Executive post at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.”

Sources close to the divorced NHS chief claim the romance started around Christmas. In his statement Mr Nicholson admitted they had enjoyed a romantic trip early in the year. He said: “We went on holidays over New Year 2009. It was a private holiday, organised and paid for by both of us. We were not on NHS business, nor was any part of the trip paid for by the NHS.’’

Delays

Patients had endured delays in treatment and sub-standard care, youngsters having been redirected to other services. BCH chief executive Paul O’Connor resigned in March, two weeks before the report’s publication.

Ms Marsh was then promoted to interim chief executive of the trust. Her permanent appointment to the estimated £155,000-per-year post was made at the end of June.

As part of his NHS package, Mr Nicholson receives an allowance to rent a flat in London.

Full article can be read in Sunday Mercury

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More from Birmingham Childrens hospital:

A BIRMINGHAM hospital paid a PR company £16,000 for just 20 days’ work to handle the fallout from a damning report.

Birmingham Children’s Hospital chiefs brought in two senior media consultants from LTA Communications at a cost of £16,387 when the trust was faced with heavy criticism in a Healthcare Commission report a month ago.

They paid out the equivalent of £86 an hour on the crisis team – despite already having three press officers who work full-time and have a combined salary of at least £100,000.

The money mirrors the annual salary of a junior nurse.

Today, the dad of a baby who died at the hospital described it as “a pathetic waste of money”.

Businessman Ayaz Ahmed, from ­Moseley, whose daughter Alesha died in intensive care after waiting more than two weeks for a bed said: “Spending £16,000 on spin doctors is a pathetic waste of money when ill children can’t even get a bed they need.

“There is something fundamentally wrong with the NHS at the moment, no one cares about lives. I could look at the books and tell them exactly how they should be spending their money.”

He claimed: “They made millions in profit last year yet they want donations for new units and are wasting money like this.”

The figures were obtained under a Freedom of Information Act inquiry by the Birmingham Mail after hospital bosses refused to disclose the figure.

The consultants “advised” and managed press interest as the Foundation hospital came under fire for a catalogue of failings from a severe shortage of beds, causing 70 sick children to be turned away every month, and poor staff training which meant theatre nurses could not recognise surgical equipment.

Martin Salter, director of communications at the hospital, said: “LTA Communications assisted our in-house team with the huge amount of interest in the Healthcare Commission report. Their daily rates have been market tested and are considered to be excellent value for money.”

Birmingham News