Liberal Democrat national President, Tim Farron MP has called for an end to NHS confidentiality deals such as those used at the Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT) which has been embroiled in scandal recently.

UHMBT and its former chief executive, Tony Halsall, signed a confidentiality ‘deal’ when Mr Halsall stepped down in February 2012. That ‘deal’ prevents the disclosure of details of Mr Halsall’s  departure, including whether he worked his six-month notice period and whether he was paid for it. The Trust’s interim chairman, Sir David Henshaw, has declared that such agreements are common in both the public and private sectors and are “part of the legal structure of this country”.

Tim Farron MP has written to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, asking him to contact every NHS Trust in the country to instruct them to not use these ‘deals’ in future. Mr Farron believes that normal confidentially rules should only apply unless there is a public interest in knowing the details of any severance package.

Mr Farron said:“ When massive pay packages are revealed in ‘Private Eye’, it only goes to underline how silly these rules are and how they must be scrapped. Massive pay-offs, which are then hidden behind confidentiality deals, are totally unacceptable. It is taxpayer’s money and they deserve to know how much of it is being used to pay off health bosses. These schemes must end.”

Many Lib Dem Councillors in Southport have echoed the views of their Party President, and argue, too, that issues like this are important throughout public life. Attempts by some councillors to have the Barrister’s Opinion on the unlawful attempts by Sefton Council to make its previous chief executive Graham Heywood ‘redundant’ failed at the first time of asking and councillors believe that the ‘confidentiality’ reasons given as excuses to prevent publication of that Opinion were spurious.

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