NHS pledges to publish any limits placed on outgoing Northamptonshire chief’s new business

Ben Gowland
Ben Gowland

An NHS trust in Northamptonshire has promised to make public the ‘contractual restrictions’ placed on its outgoing boss before he leaves to set up his own company.

Ben Gowland, chief executive of NHS Nene, announced this week he was leaving to set up an unnamed organisation in the private sector.

The NHS is still being vague about exact scope of Mr Gowland’s new venture, but has revealed it would be a social enterprise.

And NHS Nene said it would publish details of any future limits placed on its boss, before he leaves.

A spokesman for NHS Nene said: “Although Ben Gowland has announced his resignation, he will not be leaving his position as Chief Executive of Nene CCG for a number of months - until suitable arrangements have been made for a successor.

“Any plans for the new organisation that Ben will be involved with are also in the very early stages of development, but it is likely that it will be a social enterprise – so typically a business that is set up to tackle social problems, improve communities and that reinvests profits back into the local community.

“Any contractual restrictions that may apply will be discussed, agreed and made public in advance.

“There are clear rules and policies regarding procurement and letting of contracts that all NHS organisations have to adhere to and take very seriously.”

But Sally Keeble, the Parliamentary candidate for Northampton North, has said NHS Nene it must not allow Mr Gowland to use his inside knowledge unfairly.

She said: “Nobody is saying anyone has done anything wrong, but Nene CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) needs to be clear what he is and isn’t allowed to do.

“I’m not persuaded by the argument that he is only setting up a social enterprise. A social enterprise is just another type of company where all the employees can earn what they like.

“The organisation will very likely be competing for contracts against other private firms, which will not have some of the knowledge Mr Gowland has, for example how much staff are paid.

“Nene CCG needs to make sure Mr Gowland will not benefit unfairly from the contacts and inside knowledge he has acquired while head of an NHS trust.”