If a large number of your own senior staff signed a letter of no confidence in you, most people would probably throw in the towel. But Jane Collins, the besieged boss of Great Ormond Street Hospital, is digging in. After at least 40 of her full-time, NHS-employed consultants signed a letter asking her to quit – as I reported at the weekend – the Great Ormond Street PR machine has announced the existence of a counter-letter of support: signed, they say, by 122 consultants. The chairman, Baroness Blackstone, has expressed her “complete support” for Ms Collins.
The problem, my hospital snouts tell me, is that many of Ms Collins’ 122 supporters are not in fact full-time consultants at the hospital, or employed by the NHS. Some are honorary appointees; others do little or no work for Great Ormond Street; others do little or no NHS work; others are essentially academics. Great Ormond Street has sometimes been dishonest in the past, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re spinning now.
Even if all the 122 were full-time NHS consultants, it is still difficult to see how the chief executive can continue after losing the confidence of so substantial a minority of her working senior staff.
There is an important meeting next week. The ball is now with the original 40 – if they are to succeed in their declared intention, they need to press forward and not lose their nerve. Otherwise the hospital could end up in a significantly worse position than it already is, with a disliked chief executive surviving indefinitely amid continuing disaffection and turmoil.