Skip to main content

Trust’s lead governor resigns after recruitment row

Published on: 7 Jun 2024

A foundation trust’s lead governor has resigned and been judged by the FT to have breached its “values” and code of conduct, HSJ has learned.

Camden and Islington Foundation Trust confirmed Samantha Gordon, who had previously raised concerns about the recruitment process for the FT’s vice chair, has stepped down from her governor role.

It also confirmed that a complaint made by the FT’s chair, Lena Samuels, about Dr Gordon’s conduct had been upheld. Ms Samuels had accused the lead governor of behaviour which caused her emotional distress and prevented her from chairing a meeting effectively. 

The trust said: “We can confirm that [Dr] Gordon has resigned as a governor… The investigation into the formal complaint against [her] raised by [Lena Samuels] has concluded and the complaint was upheld in full by the independent panel.

“The panel concluded [Dr Gordon’s] conduct had breached the trust’s values, had breached [the] trust governor’s code of conduct, and was not in the spirit of the requirements placed on all NHS governors under the national NHS England code of governance.”

Dr Gordon, who is a paediatric ophthalmology consultant, criticised the investigation in her resignation letter, seen by HSJ. She said it had “disrupted my work, damaged my reputation, and inconvenienced other governors”. She also said her work as a governor had been seeking “to defend the position of patients and members”.

She told HSJ: ”I was not involved in the investigation, my views were not taken into account, and I do not accept the [panel’s] findings as they did not consider any representations or evidence from me.”

Meanwhile, an update sent by the trust to governors about the developments, also seen by HSJ, said her “tenure as governor has immediately terminated” and it would therefore not investigate her any further, nor take other action. 

It did, however, say some further complaints made by Dr Gordon remained under investigation, and added: “The [investigation] panel has made some recommendations to the chair about things to think about moving forward to avoid this situation happening again. Lena will be considering these recommendations and will discuss them with you at the next appropriate meeting.”

C&IFT is part of the North London Mental Health Partnership, alongside Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust, ahead of an expected merger between the two trusts, which are both now chaired by Ms Samuels.

The trust added in a statement to HSJ that it did “not share [Dr] Gordon’s assertions about previous non-executive director appointment processes, and strongly refuted her claim that there was any breach of the Equality Act” in the appointment decisions.

Last year NHS England’s London office threatened to remove Camden and Islington FT’s governors in a dispute over recruiting a joint chair.