Wales politics

Health watchdog chief executive Tony Rucinski sacked

Tony Rucinski
Image caption Tony Rucinski had been in the role for seven months before he was suspended

The suspended chief executive of the NHS patients' watchdog in Wales has been sacked, it has been confirmed.

Tony Rucinski was suspended from the £90,000-a-year role by the Board of Community Health Councils (CHC) in February 2016.

No reason has been given publicly for his suspension or sacking.

The Welsh Conservatives raised concerns over a lack of transparency in the case. Dr Rucinski said he cannot comment for legal reasons.

The Welsh Government said it was a matter for the CHC board.

Opposition AMs have previously criticised the lack of information given by the board and the Welsh Government about Mr Rucinski's lengthy suspension.

'Waiting for answers'

In a statement, the board's acting chief executives Alyson Thomas and Clare Jenkins said: "We can confirm that the employment of Dr Tony Rucinski as the chief executive officer of the Board of Community Health Councils in Wales has now been terminated.

"It would be inappropriate for us to make any further comment on an internal HR matter."

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the board said the bill for extra salary payments to other staff to cover for Dr Rucinski while he was suspended, stands at £58,135.

The organisation describes itself as the "independent voice of patients" in Wales.

It and the seven CHCs it oversees had an annual budget in 2015-16 of £3.8m.

Dr Rucinski was appointed as chief executive of the board in a newly-created role in July 2015.

At the time, he told BBC Wales he had been "put in place to make things happen" but was suspended seven months later.

Image caption Andrew RT Davies said it was the "latest episode on a worrying journey"

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: "Dr Rucinski's sacking is the latest episode on a worrying journey towards the total dismemberment of Community Health Councils and the removal of a vital plank of scrutiny."

"The Welsh Government's lack of communication to AMs and the public throughout this protracted case shows their outright disdain for the vital role Community Health Councils play in holding ministers to account."

He said Health Secretary Vaughan Gething's "silence" on the issue had been "deafening".

Some 18 months on from the initial suspension "we are still left waiting for answers," he said.

"This is not the transparent democracy once envisaged by Rhodri Morgan," added Mr Davies.

The Welsh Government is currently considering replacing Community Health Councils and setting up one national body.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "This is wholly an internal matter for the CHC board, not the Welsh Government."

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