By Dr Minh Alexander retired consultant psychiatrist 29 March 2023
On 18 November 2022 it was announced by both University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) and the commissioning body Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board (ICB) that David Rosser CEO of UHB was moving on to a new role.
This role was regional “Strategic Director of Digital Health and Care”.
Curiously, there appeared to be no sign of an office, team, website locus, operating details or contact details. As the weeks and months passed, this did not change.
Eventually, repeated enquiries to Patrick Vernon the ICB Chair resulted in an admission, via the ICB FOI team, that Rosser had not left UHB at all.
He remained technically employed by UHB.
Jonathan Brotherton was carrying out his former duties as acting UHB CEO.
In Rosser’s new Digital role, he was reportedly “hosted” by the ICB and reported to the ICB’s chief executive David Melbourne.
FOI response by Birmingham and Solihull ICB Ref 20230119-2, 16 Feb 2023 David Rosser’s new role
Yes, that is the same David Melbourne who has been directly involved in the oversight of the ICB’s reviews on UHB’s failing governance and who has been responsible for briefing local councillors about the progress of the reviews via the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
All very intertwined and not very independent looking.
The ICB could not even produce a formal position specification/ job description, answering pitifully:
“Further specifics are being scoped with system partners”
And if it was all innocent, why was there a need for the carefully crafted, coordinated statements which omitted to mention that Rosser had not actually left UHB at all?
Why was the word “regional” tacked onto the role, giving the impression of distance from local arrangements?
Would the man on the Clapham Omnibus think that it all looked a bit furtive and collusive?
What were the ICB and NHS England trying to hide?
We will likely hear more as the threads continue to unravel.
Oh, and Bewick’s phase 1 report on UHB was published today, with a good many departures from his terms of reference, through substantial omissions.
We can at least thank Dr Bewick for helping to expose the situation further and for additionally making the case for a judge led inquiry with powers to protect vital witnesses who have had to remain silent so far.
UPDATE 3 April 2023
I asked the ICB if Mike Bewick had been in on the contrived fiction that Rosser had left UHB when he had in fact remained in UHB’s employ all along.
The ICB replied evasively on 3 April 2023.
I have asked the ICB Chair Patrick Vernon to answer the questions clearly, as follows:
Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board
3 April 2023
Dear Mr Vernon,
Circumstances of David Rosser’s employment and information disclosed to Mike Bewick
Thank you for the further FOI response from the ICB on this matter.
I feel the ICB has not responded to my FOI request. It has answered past the point and possibly disingenuously.
The ICB has stated in its response that Mike Bewick knew about the circumstances of David Rosser’s new role because they came into the public domain on 18 November 2022, when David Rosser’s appointment to the regional role of “Strategic Director of Regional Digital Health and Care” was announced, before Mike Bewick took on the UHB review.
Also, the ICB indicated that Mike Bewick was nonetheless informed of these details upon being appointed by the ICB, [to undertake the phase 1 rapid review of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust].
However, in my FOI request I specifically asked the ICB if Mike Bewick has been informed of the fact that David Rosser had been “hosted” by the ICB and was reporting to the ICB chief executive.
These facts were disclosed to me only via an ICB FOI response in February 2023.
It was not public knowledge that David Rosser had in fact, as the ICB admitted in February, remained in UHB’s employment.
This was despite coordinated press releases by both UHB and ICB which gave the impression that he had left UHB.
These facts about his continuing employment by UHB and secondment to the ICB did not come into the public domain until late March when they were revealed by the BBC: first by Michele Paduano, and then Newsnight on 28 March 2023.
Accordingly, could the ICB provide a response to my specific questions as follows.
Did the ICB inform Mike Bewick upon appointing him, to undertake the phase 1 rapid review into UHB, that David Rosser:
a) Was still employed by UHB?
b) Was “hosted” by the ICB?
c) Was reporting to the ICB CEO?
Please also advise of an additional matter:
1) Upon being contracted to undertake the phase 1 rapid review of UHB, did Mike Bewick inform the ICB of the basis upon which he called himself “Professor”?
2) Did Mike Bewick provide the ICB with details of his qualifications and how he came by this title of “Professor”?
Dr Minh Alexander
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Bewick’s silence on patient complaints at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust