North Devon Healthcare Trust has comissioned an independent investigation after senior consultants raised a vote of no confidence in the medical director.

The Gazette revealed in January that at an extraordinary meeting of the Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) on January 9, 51 out of 76 consultants supported a motion of no confidence in George Thomson.

A spokesperson for Northern Devon Healthcare Trust said: “The trust has commissioned a fully independent investigation into the concerns raised in the recent letter received from representatives of the medical advisory committee.

“We are committed to carrying out a full and fair process, and Dr Thomson remains an employee of the trust during this investigation.

“However, his duties in part are being covered by senior colleagues until there is a conclusion to this process.

“We will not be able to provide further comment until this investigation has concluded.”

The committee wrote to Roger French, chairman of the NDHT board, outlining its reasons for the vote by senior clinicians.

These included allegations of ‘ongoing concerns about intimidating and bullying behaviour towards senior clinicians’.

The committee also said Mr Thomson had a ‘lack of recognition of the MAC chair’s role as an independent voice in the processes around managing performance concerns for senior clinicians’.

And MAC claimed there had been a ‘lack of clinical leadership’ over addressing safety concerns at the hospital’s maternity unit.

In the letter to Mr French, the MAC concluded: “The senior clinicians felt that previous attempts to raise concerns within and outside the trust have been ineffective.

“In addition, should George Thomson apply for the position of Chief Executive (interim or permanent), we would not support his appointment.”

Current chief executive Alison Diamond will be retiring from the position in March and the trust said work is ‘ongoing’ to secure her replacement.