Mixed reaction as Shropshire hospitals chief steps down
The announcement that chief executive Simon Wright is leaving his post in charge of the county's major hospitals has been met with a mixed reaction.
Mr Wright, the man at the top of Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust for nearly five years, has been synonymous with the Future Fit plans to reorganise the hospitals – but now leaves without seeing the project through.
Shrewsbury & Atcham's Conservative MP, Daniel Kawczynski, has been a long-time supporter of Mr Wright and said he was saddened at the departure.
Mr Kawczynski also questioned whether the opposition to Future Fit from Telford & Wrekin Council had played a part in Mr Wright's decision.
He said: "We have been unfortunate in Shropshire in that we have had a high turnover over the last decade of chief executives.
"Also, he has had to put up with a huge amount of uncalled for criticism and considerable challenges from Telford Council, when he's been doing a very important job in modernising the services.
"I know he must have felt a great deal of frustration about the conduct of Telford Council towards him, sometimes being quite personal in their criticisms, and I hope that hasn't influenced his decision.
"I would like to thank him for his time and his considerable efforts, and would like to wish him every success for the future."
But Telford & Wrekin Council's Labour leader, Shaun Davies, who has opposed the plans – to the extent that his council has submitted a formal legal request for the plans to be reviewed by the government – said now is the time for a fresh start.
He said: "I would like to thank Simon for his time at Sath. However it’s been clear for years that Simon hasn’t been able to make the changes required turn around Sath. Often his management style was the problem. We now need a fresh start. We need Future Fit to be scrapped. The suggested merger of the CCGs to be suspended. Together, working in a sprite of co-operation we need to come together to design a health and adult social care system which is fairly funded and delivering excellent services."
Gill George, of Shropshire Defend our NHS, added: "He joined a trust that was struggling and under his leadership that has become a trust that is failing on a catastrophic scale – a trust that is letting down its staff and patients.
"This decision can only be to the good of local people."
A joint statement from Dr Julian Povey, Chair of Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and Dr Jo Leahy, Chair of Telford & Wrekin CCG, paid tribute to Mr Wright's work.
They said: "We would like to thank Simon Wright for his hard work at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) in his role of Chief Executive. He joined the trust at a very challenging time and his contribution has been invaluable. We wish him well in his next role.”
Meanwhile Mark Brandreth, chief executive of the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Gobowen, seemed to comment on the decision – although he did not mention Mr Wright by name.
He tweeted: "Being an NHS chief executive is a privilege but it can also be lonely and hard. We don’t always get it right. Much love to my CEO colleagues today."