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The chief executive of a hospital whose A&E department was saved at the expense of others has quit after a damning report from the health watchdog.

Tony Bell left Chelsea and Westminster hospital last Friday after the Care Quality Commission said it “requires improvement” and highlighted delays in emergency patients waited to be assessed and treated.

The hospital, which was help up as a model of good practice, also failed to meet the 18-week NHS target for surgery, with longer waits in general surgery, trauma and orthopaedics, urology and plastic surgery.

At the time, Mr Bell claimed the problems highlighted by the CQC “can be resolved swiftly.” His shock departure – after two years in the post – was blamed by campaigners on the changes to A&E care that has seen the closure of units at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex and proposed changes at Charing Cross and Ealing.

Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith, said: “Both Northwick Park and Imperial [which runs St Mary’s and Charing Cross] have been through managerial chaos and now we have the chief exec at Chelsea and Westminster resigning. This is a shambolic situation which is a serious threat to the healthcare of over two million Londoners.”

Mr Bell has been replaced on an interim basis by chief nurse Elizabeth McManus. In his chief executive’s blog, which has been removed from the trust website, he said: “We are better than this rating suggests.”

Chelsea and Westminster hospital said in a statement:

Tony Bell OBE is to step down as Chief Executive of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in agreement with Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett, Chairman of the Trust.

Tony said: “I believe that this is the right time for me to hand over the reins as a new Trust Board establishes itself and reviews its priorities for the future.  We have developed a strategic direction for the trust and I feel honoured to have played a key part in leading that process with Board Directors.

“When I arrived at the trust we were in the midst of public consultation on the NW London strategy – Shaping A Healthier Future and our A&E services hung in the balance. I feel privileged to have played a part in securing those services and the future role of the trust as a major Acute Hospital for NW London.

“I would like to take this opportunity to say Thank You to our excellent team of staff and to the volunteers and Council of Governors who give so much so willingly to keep Chelsea and Westminster special.”

Sir Thomas said: “ Tony has been a committed and professional CEO who has made a significant contribution to the future of the Trust. We have achieved a great deal under his leadership. We have opened a new Children’s Hospital, won a number of prestigious awards for the high quality of care we provide to patients and families and begun the very important work in North West London of integrating our hospital care with the care that is provided in the community. He has been a visible leader and engaged both the Clinicians and staff of the trust and personally championed the research, education and quality improvement strategies of the organisation. I am grateful to Tony for his great contribution that has benefited our patients, staff, and volunteers alike.”

In the short term Tony will be working at NHS England on national policy. In due course the trust will announce its future leadership plans.

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