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Consultants vote ‘no confidence’ in trust board

Published on: 7 Dec 2023

The consultants committee at a mental health trust has passed two ‘no confidence’ votes in its board, after the medical director was unexpectedly suspended from his duties.

The medical advisory committee at Black Country Healthcare Foundation Trust voted last week, after doctors were told in an email by trust leaders that chief medical officer Mark Weaver was stepping down. 

The MAC is made up of consultants working at the trust with an appointed chair and provides clinical guidance and scrutiny.

The trust has since appointed an interim medical director, Jayanth Srinivas, from neighbouring Midlands Partnership Trust, where he is currently deputy CMO.

The vote of no confidence – the results of which have been shared with HSJ – asked senior doctors to vote on two statements. First, ”I have lost trust and confidence in the trust board in regards to the process of managing the removal and replacement of the senior medical leadership that has occurred”, and the second citing concerns about “the impact and implications of this process on the quality and safety of patient care”.

Forty-four doctors agreed with the first statement, 10 disagreed and 18 abstained. On the second statement, 32 agreed, 15 disagreed and 25 abstained.

Multiple members of the MAC who spoke to HSJ but wanted to remain anonymous described BCHFT’s board as “anti-medical” and said Dr Weaver was a “voice for patients and for doctors”. They said they had not been given satisfactory answers when they asked why he had been removed, and this prompted their votes.

One consultant said: “We had an emergency meeting [after the email informing staff Dr Weaver had stepped down] and everyone was very upset. We don’t trust the board for what they’ve done. He [Dr Weaver] has been gagged and is not allowed to tell us anything.”

The circumstances and cause of Dr Weaver’s departure are unclear.

Another questioned why the trust had appointed an interim chief medical officer from another trust and said it “makes absolutely no sense”, as the trust has a deputy CMO.

Marsha Foster, chief executive officer at BCHFT said: “We can confirm that Dr Weaver has temporarily stepped away from his role as chief medical officer.

“It is important that we continue to build a strong, collaborative relationship between the board and our consultant body and we are keen to hear about any concerns raised and agree a way forward together. We remain committed to ensuring the highest quality of care for our patients and communities.”

A trust spokesperson also said the trust not aware of the MAC vote before HSJ’s inquiry. Trust and MAC leaders are due to meet on Friday.

BCHFT was investigated by the Care Quality Commission earlier this year after concerns were raised about serious incidents, including staff sleeping in a patient’s bed and an information governance breach involving a senior member of staff. The CQC found the trust had taken appropriate action.