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CWU backs call to review ex-Post Office boss Vennells’s NHS post

CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey today spoke out strongly in support of efforts to review former Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells’s position at one of the UK’s largest NHS Trusts.

The appointment of Ms Vennells as chair of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust was made last year, soon after she left the Post Office, and was a highly controversial decision at the time.

Her departure from the CEO role came in the middle of the high-profile judgements against the company on behalf of over 500 postmaster victims who had been prosecuted, lost their livelihoods, fined – and in some cases even jailed – due to faults in the Horizon computer accounting system and the over-zealous actions of Post Office managers.

£58 million in compensation settlement has been secured, however the fight for full justice continues, with a less than adequate, albeit retired judge-led inquiry having been ordered by the Government into what has been widely described as “the worst miscarriage of justice for many years.”

But, despite Ms Vennells having been the Post Office’s most senior national figure during the height of the persecutions against Postmasters, she faced no sanction or action for her role in the Horizon scandal and was awarded a CBE and the lucrative chair’s post at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Computer Weekly’s Karl Flinders reported last week that the Trust is currently ‘seeking external legal advice in relation to the processes it went through’ when appointing Ms Vennells, in response to a referral made by ‘former consultant psychiatrist Minh Alexander to the Care Quality Commission (CQC)’.

Flinders explains that Mr Alexander has asked the CQC, in the case of Vennells’s appointment, to ‘exercise its powers under CQC Regulation 5 Fit and Proper Persons Requirement (FPPR)’.

Reacting to the latest Flinders exposé, CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey said today: “It’s absolutely right that Paula Vennells’s appointment to such an important public-sector role should be robustly reviewed in light of her leadership during this scandal.

“This is the person who told a previous Horizon Select Committee hearing that this system was working well and also that she was the person with ultimate responsibility for the actions of Post Office Limited. In our view, there’s no way she should have been rewarded with this appointment or indeed to have been awarded a CBE. “Minh Alexander has taken the right course in making this CQC referral and also, once again, this union and the postmasters of our nation are heartily grateful for Karl Flinders’s dogged and persistent reporting of this scandal.”

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