Conquest £10k shock

HOSPITAL chiefs paid lawyers £10,000 for their advice on how to manage the departure of a former chief executive.Chiefs at the Conquest held four meetings to discuss the six-figure pay-out to Annette Sergeant, who left in September last year.

Monday, 6th November 2006, 5:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 9:36 pm

Ms Sergeant was on a 135,000-a-year-salary when she left her job as chief executive of East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust.

She was criticised in a report by the Healthcare Commission into alleged bullying at the Trust.

The watchdog's paper slammed her for being a distant figure who other staff only knew from seeing her photograph.

Ms Sergeant then negotiated a huge termination package of 231,000 from her employers after taking time off work.

The hospital Trust is currently 5million in debt.

Ms Sergeant's redundancy package sparked outrage.

It has now been revealed the Trust held four meetings with its Remuneration Committee to discuss the pay-off.

The Remuneration Committe, which took the controversial step to award Ms Sergeant the massive pay-out is headed by the Trust's chairman John Lewis and has six other members, who are all non-executive directors of the authority.

They also hired the services of London solicitors Beven Brittan to provide legal advice which came with a 9,337 price tag.

The meetings, held between July and October last year, were all held in different offices at Eastbourne DGH.

The information came to light through a Freedom of Information request, however the Trust refused to give the minutes of each of the meetings as bosses deemed them to be covered by the Data Protection Act.

A letter released by Eastbourne Downs Primary Care Trust (PCT) after the redundancy, revealed Ms Sergeant left the hospital Trust because it wanted 'a leader with a new set of skills'.

It claimed that she was not fired for 'poor performance' despite the Healthcare Commission report saying her Trust was riddled with claims of harassment and bullying.

Ms Sergeant managed to land herself another top job as interim chief executive at West Dorset General Hospitals NHS Trust earlier this year.

Before her appointment at East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust she was head of the national Winter and Emergency Services Team (WEST) at the Department of Health.

Prior to that, she had been chief executive at Kent and Sussex Weald NHS Trust in Tunbridge Wells and at Chase Farm Hospital NHS Trust before that.