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From Keighley News, 8th November 2017
Written by Alastair Shand

KEIGHLEY MP John Grogan has criticised a health trust's outgoing chairman. And the Labour MP has voiced his hope that the departure of Professor Michael Luger could lead to a U-turn over controversial plans for a separate company to run a swathe of services at Airedale Hospital. Prof Luger has announced his resignation from Airedale NHS Foundation Trust to take-up an executive role in the education sector in London. 

"I am disappointed that he has 'cut and run' so soon after driving through the decision to set-up a subsidiary company taking over many of the activities of the hospital," said Mr Grogan.

"I was never convinced that he had much real commitment to Airedale.

"I'm hoping that his departure will allow for a rethink over the subsidiary company, particularly as the leader of the House of Commons – the Right Honourable Andrea Leadsom – told me in Parliament last week that she finds the decision of the trust to set-up the company 'concerning'."

A behind-closed-doors meeting of the trust's board last month agreed the plans to establish a trust-owned company to run estates, facilities and procurement services, despite opponents' claims it would mean "backdoor privatisation" of NHS services.

The trust this week paid tribute to Prof Luger.

"We are grateful to him for his commitment to Airedale as non-executive chairman over the past three-and-a-half years – especially his focus on innovation and new ways of working," said a spokesman.

"We respect Michael's desire to take up an executive position in higher education, where he has previously held a number of senior roles, and we wish him every success.

"As there is no conflict of interest between his current role and his new position in London, Michael will be able to see out an active period of notice with the trust."

The trust's council of governors will now head a process to recruit a new chairman.

Current deputy, Andrew Gold, will take on interim chairmanship.

"Andrew’s commercial experience and strong financial background will continue to be invaluable to the trust as it builds a sustainable future," added the spokesman.