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Frightening future for Whittington as boss quits at delicate time

Cllr Martin Klute Cllr Martin Klute

Thursday, March 20, 2014
6:59 AM

A “worrying and scary” fate awaits the Whittington Hospital following the chief executive’s resignation on Tuesday.

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Dr Yi Mien Koh, chief executive of Whittington HealthDr Yi Mien Koh, chief executive of Whittington Health

Dr Yi Mien Koh, who has been in charge since March 2011, says she will step down at the end of the month after taking Whittington Health, the trust that runs the hospital, “as far as she can”.

Her time at the helm has been a troubled one – including a dramatic U-turn over a plan to sell buildings at the hospital site in Magdala Avenue, Archway, in the face of huge public outrage.

But Cllr Martin Klute, chairman of Islington Council’s health scrutiny committee, says without her, the future looks grim.

Delicate

He said: “We are very disappointed because Dr Koh was working very hard at the hospital and we are in the middle of a very delicate time, trying to become a foundation trust.

“If we don’t manage that, the list of organisations which could take us over is pretty scary – possibly a private company.

“The penalties for failure are severe and we really would want her to see it all the way through.

“It’s very worrying for the future. To have the chief executive leave right in the middle of an application is not good.

“Now we have to get someone on the learning curve quickly. We need someone who either stands up to pressure or doesn’t mind being pushed around.”

Shirley Franklin, chairman of the defend the Whittington Coalition, said: “Given the fiasco with the attempted sell-off, I’m not overly sympathetic to her departure.

“People seem to be leaving in their droves, often with no jobs to go to.

“Whittington Health is not a happy ship at the moment.“

Former South Tees Hospital boss Simon Pleydell will take charge on April 1 until a permanent successor is found.

During his tenure at South Tees, Mr Peldell has to deal with a 4,000-strong march over closures at Friarage hospital.

Dr Koh said: “I have had three very happy years at Whittington Health. However, I feel that I have taken the trust as far as I can.

“Whittington Health needs someone to take the trust forward on its journey to become a foundation trust.”

She added: “I will miss working with many great colleagues and would like to wish the trust well for its future.”

Steve Hitchins, chairman of Whittington Health, said: “I would like to thank Yi Mien for her hard work, energy and expertise in taking the organisation forward as an integrated care organisation.

“Much progress has been made in coordinating our services with the community and social care.”

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