Bob Kerslake was asked to resign from NHS role two days before he quit in protest

Posted On: 
11th December 2017

A former head of the civil service who quit a top NHS job in protest at government under-funding had been asked to resign two days before, it has emerged.

Lord Kerslake meets the Queen in 2013.
PA Images

Lord Kerslake said he was standing down as chair of the Kings College NHS Trust because ministers were "unrealistic about the scale of the challenge" facing the health service.

NHS Improvement today placed the trust in special measures over the parlous state of its finances.

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Ian Dalton, the regulator's chief executive, said: "The financial situation at King’s has deteriorated very seriously over recent months and we have now placed the trust in special measures to maximise the amount of scrutiny and support that it receives.

"We understand that the wider NHS faces financial and operational challenges, and other trusts and foundation trusts have large deficits. However, none has shown the sheer scale and pace of the deterioration at King’s.  It is not acceptable for individual organisations to run up such significant deficits when the majority of the sector is working extremely hard to hit their financial plans, and in many cases have made real progress."

NHS Improvement Ian Smith would be appointed as a "new and experienced interim chair" to replace Lord Kerslake.

Asked if reports that Lord Kerslake was asked to resign on Friday were true, a senior NHS source told PoliticsHome: "I'm not going to correct that impression."

But writing for The Guardian, Lord Kerslake - who is also acting as an adviser to Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell - accused the health service of "shooting the messenger".

He said: "My two and a half years at King’s have been in equal parts inspiring and frustrating. There are undoubtedly things that I and the trust could have done better – there always are – but fundamentally our problems lie in the way that the NHS is funded and organised. We desperately need a fundamental rethink. Until then we are simply kicking the can down the road."