Not a word from the chief executive

IMG_1029WITH a six-figure salary of around £150,000 she was perhaps the highest-paid person in the room. So maybe the hundreds who came to face the Whittington Hospital’s board on Tuesday night over proposals that have sickened them with fear over the past month might have expected a least a couple of words from its chief executive.

But, after almost three hours of debate and discussion, the meeting closed without a peep from Dr Yi Mien Koh, who for the lion’s share of the meeting sat in the front row listening to speaker after speaker cut apart the re-organisation plans.

It was, naturally, an intimidating atmosphere.

But some might argue being able to eloquently explain the position under pressure comes with the renumeration. Instead it was largely left to Trust chairman Joe Liddane to do the talking and face the wrath head-on.

Dr Koh was afterwards being criticised in the Methodist Hall’s corridors after her failure to make an impact on the meeting.

She had been invited to speak at one stage but again the moment passed without comment. Some in the room likened it to a child who didn’t want to be picked out by a teacher for a maths question.

It may have been a mean assessment but the board had made great play of how they were almost all there to outline their vision.

That’s not to say Dr Koh has not offered an opinion. It’s just that it has been offered in press ­interviews instead.

She gave her first interview to the New Journal when she arrived in April 2011, as the hospital began its attempts to rebrand with a new title “Whittington Health”. Patients largely still use the perfectly normal name they have always used: the Whittington ­Hospital.

If the under­lying push for changes is cemented in a desire to get Foundation ­Status, it was clear from Dr Koh’s first answers: “Not getting Foundation Trust status is not an option for me. I am determined. We will work differently and we need to drive those changes.”

But after the battle to save the A&E three years ago, readers of that interview may have welcomed another comment from her: “I haven’t seen anything to say I’m going to close anything down.”

More than one of those present on Tuesday night, wondered whether it would have been sensible for her expand on that view.


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