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NHS legal chief resigns with nine days’ notice

Published on: 27 Jan 2022

NHS Resolution chair Martin Thomas has quietly resigned, with no official press announcement, following allegations of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ in a previous role.

A short notice on the Department of Health and Social Care website published today titled, “Non-executive appointments made April 2021 to March 2022”, said he would be stepping down from tomorrow.

Mr Thomas’s imminent departure has not been announced by NHS Resolution, the DHSC agency responsible for dealing with the service’s legal disputes. His profile remains on the website, with no mention that he had resigned as of 27 January.

The DHSC notice said: “Following the resignation of Martin Thomas as chair of NHS Resolution from 28 January, Mike Pinkerton has been appointed as interim chair of NHS Resolution from 29 January 2022 until 31 March 2022. Mike currently serves as a non-executive director and senior independent director on the NHS Resolution board”.

An NHSR spokesman told HSJ shortly after our piece was published. The spokesman confirmed NHSR would not be making a formal press statement, but he clarified that Mr Thomas “had resigned on 19 January and has been working his notice until 28 January, his final day.”

Last month The Times revealed he had stepped down as chair of Women For Women International UK in May after a bullying investigation. This was the third formal misconduct allegation he had faced since 2018. An external investigator commissioned by WFWI concluded that Mr Thomas’ behaviour was not “deliberate bullying but that the complaint was partly upheld insofar as aspects of the chair’s conduct were judged to have been inappropriate”.

News of the allegations also prompted him to step down as chair of the Charity Commission last month, just a week after being appointed.

When HSJ tried to confirm whether Mr Thomas would continue as NHSR chair in December, neither the DHSC nor the regulator would comment – each referring HSJ back to the other organisation. 

The Daily Telegraph, which described Mr Thomas as “a friend” of the prime minister, reported that “government sources claimed that Mr Thomas did not disclose any of the allegations during the recruitment process for head of the regulator [the Charity Commission]”.

Mr Thomas’s profile on the NHS Resolution website says: “[Mr Thomas] started his three-year term on 1 January 2021. The appointment is made in accordance with the Cabinet Office Code of Governance for Public Appointments and will involve a time commitment of around two to three days per week.

“[Mr Thomas] has no declared political activity. He was previously vice-chairman of the Medical Protection Society and stepped down from the role before taking up this post.

“Martin Thomas has over 20 years’ experience in the insurance and financial services sectors, including roles at the Bank of England, the European Commission and the European Central Bank. Martin currently holds a number of charitable roles. He is a trustee and founder of ‘Downside Up’, which provides support and advice for families raising.”

This piece was updated at 15:30 on 27 January after NHS Resolution confirmed Mr Thomas had resigned on 19 January.