The retiring medical director at the Countess of Chester Hospital appeared to reference an investigation into baby deaths at the neonatal unit when he addressed the hospital board for the last time.
It was Ian Harvey who issued a statement to the press following the shocking news an unnamed healthcare professional had been arrested on suspicion of murdering eight babies and the attempted murder of six new-borns.
But Mr Harvey, who turns 60 in August, notified chief executive Tony Chambers of his intention to retire at the start of the year, many months before the arrest which took place on July 3.
He told the hospital board meeting he had been fortunate to work with some ‘superb’ teams over his 24 years at the Countess including the executive team.
“This isn’t something you can do in isolation. There is no doubt this team has been tested. It’s all Tony’s fault," said Mr Harvey jokingly. "I think a couple of years ago he said ‘Well, it’s all been fairly easy hasn’t it? We haven’t really been tested’ – we have.”
But the Countess was rated ‘overall good’ in the most recent Care Quality Commission report despite challenges in some clinical areas. And it has been at the forefront of using pioneering technology to electronically track patients with the aim of improving patient flow.
Mr Harvey continued: “I think that we’ve come as far as we have is testament to the component of that team and how the team works together but that is actually a reflection of all the teams we have got within the trust, clinical and non-clinical.
“I was very fortunate to get a job in the hospital I had identified as a registrar I wanted to come back to. I have never regretted it.”
He concluded: “It truly has been a joy. I’m confident of the future of this place because of the people here.”
Mr Harvey, who qualified in medicine in Liverpool, commenced his role as medical director in July 2012 having held other managerial roles with the trust including lead clinician for orthopaedics and clinical director for orthopaedic and plastic surgery and rheumatology.
He was one of the first surgeons in the Mersey region to perform arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder. He also performs arthroscopic surgery of the wrist and elbow and upper replacement surgery.
Chief executive Tony Chambers paid this tribute: “Ian has been a valued and exceptional colleague at the Countess for 24 years, having returned as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon following an earlier spell as a registrar. For the last six years he has been our medical director and deputy CEO and when he first told me of his plans to retire at the start of this year it was with a heavy heart that I accepted it, but if anyone deserves a long and happy retirement it is Ian.”
Talking about his replacement, who started this week, he continued: “Having said that, as one chapter closes another one opens, and we are all excited to see what Dr Susan Gilby will bring to the Countess as our new medical director.
"During an extensive recruitment process over Easter she was the outstanding candidate by far, perfectly embodying the values and behaviours we ask for. She will bring drive and influence to the hospital at a time when we are working more closely than ever with our partners in the wider health system.”