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RETURN OF pounds 23M NHS BUNGLER; EXCLUSIVE Health chief's cock-ups help build huge debts Quits after errors that could cost 200 jobs He keeps pension & now advises minister Cushy post as hospital struggles.

A BUNGLING hospital boss who helped rack up pounds 23million debts has a new job - telling the Government how to SAVE health service cash.

Douglas Pattisson landed the cushy post despite astonishing gaffes that could cost 200 staff THEIR jobs.

He left a trail of financial havoc when he resigned as chief executive at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Cambridge, last September.

But Pattisson is now a member of an NHS steering group advising Health Minister Lord Warner.

During his six years at the hospital, which is threatened with closure, he:

Massively MISJUDGED the cost of a new treatment centre, HANDEDback pounds 9million to the Department of Health after ticking the wrong box on a Government form and REPAID a pounds 2.6million loan in error. Yet he walked away with his pension intact.

Mike Gough, leader of the Save Hinchingbrooke Campaign and a Unison member, said: "When I sawhe was working for Lord Warner I couldn't believe my eyes."

Pattissoni nherited a pounds 2million deficit when he took over at Hinchingbrooke - and left it TEN TIMES worse.

The chaos led to about 30 nurses being axed, including an entire theatre team from the new treatment centre.

This year more than 200 staff, including desperately-needed midwives, could face the chop.

Moves are being made to save the hospital but Mr Gough warned: "Due to the debts left behind it could still close."

Pattisson's new role is on the Care Closer to Home Demonstration Group whose duties include advising on moves that could save money.

Geoffrey Heathcock, chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council's health scrutiny committee, said: "It's absolutely absurd that a chief executive who left his hospital pounds 23 million in debt has gone on to become an NHS consultant.

"I'm afraid this case speaks volumes for the way in which theNHSis being run. If this was a private company there is no way this would be allowed to happen. If I made an absolute balls of the job that I do then ultimately I would be thrown out and could be banned from public office."

Shortly after Pattisson quit Mr Heathcock said: "There are questions as to what went on when Mr Pattisson was in charge, when Hinchingbrooke went from being just a bit adrift financially to having debts in the mega millions.

"He came to the decision that it was best for him to go.

"The NHS has got to get used to the idea of scrutiny and accountability. Dif ficult questions need to be asked on behalf of the public and they have to be answered."

Some of the financial damage left behind by Pattisson has nowbeen repaired. Campaigner Mr Gough explained: "Since his departure the hospital has got back the pounds 9million that went to the Department of Health.

"They have saved a further pounds 8.1million because they have changed the pay system Pattisson put the hospital on.

"At one stage when Pattisson was in his post it looked like the debts could go up to pounds 30 million."

Speaking on behalf of Pattisson, a Department of Health spokesman said: "Mr Pattisson was asked by the Department to join the Care Closer to Home Demonstration Group as an NHS Trust chief executive working in a small acute hospital. He has now left the trust but still sits on the group in a personal capacity as an expert on the NHS."

A member of hospital staff told The People: "Morale at the moment is at its lowest ebb."

features@people.co.uk

Voice of The People: Page 8

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CRISIS: Staff face job cuts Picture: MANNI MASONS
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:May 13, 2007
Words:598
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