Chancellor and CEO leave charity as ‘trustees review options’

08 Dec 2022 News

Jeremy Hunt

Richard Townshend / Creative Commons

Chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt has formally left a charity he founded and its chief executive has also departed after some concerns were expressed over his high salary.

Patient Safety Watch was founded by Hunt, who was a trustee of the charity until November when he stepped down to focus on his role as chancellor. 

Adam Smith has also stepped down as chief executive, while the charity now reviews “options for the future”.

The charity has appointed one of its two remaining trustees, James Titcombe, to replace Hunt as chair but has yet to appoint a new chief executive.

CEO departs

Smith is Hunt’s former special adviser. He resigned from that position in 2012 after allegations that he had too close a relationship with News Corporation. 

The charity came under scrutiny earlier this year when Civil Society News revealed it was paying Smith, its only employee, £110,000 – £120,000, around 72% of the charity's annual income.

Lawyers also warned there were risks of conflict of interest in how the charity was run, but the regulator decided against a probe into the charity. 

A spokesperson from Patient Safety Watch told Civil Society News: “We are grateful for the fantastic work Adam Smith did establishing Patient Safety Watch with its important research programme into avoidable harm and deaths, and widely read weekly newsletter.  

“James Titcombe has now stepped in to lead the charity as chair while the trustees review options for the future and a decision on long-term leadership will be taken in due course.” 

The charity would not specify if they would be employing another chief executive, or if they would receive the same remuneration as Smith. 

Its annual accounts state its public health newsletter has just over 1,000 subscribers. The charity also posts blogs on its website and recently published its first full-length report on patient safety in collaboration with Imperial College London.

Hunt steps down as a trustee

Hunt has stepped down as a trustee of the charity and as a director of the private company with the same name to focus on his role as chancellor, a charity spokesperson confirmed. 

Charity Commission and Companies House records show Hunt is no longer a trustee or director of Nyumbani UK and Hotcourses Foundation either since this November, a charity that his former business partner Mike Elms is still a trustee of. 

Patient Safety Watch’s two remaining trustees, patient safety expert James Titcombe and accountant David Grunberg, do not receive remuneration for their roles.

Grunberg is also a trustee of Nyumbani UK and Hotcourses Foundation, and the accountancy firm he founded, Grunberg & Co, conducts the independent audit of its accounts. It also audits Patient Safety Watch's accounts.

Charity worked on Jeremy Hunt’s book

Patient Safety Watch commissioned its first piece of research in collaboration with Imperial College London last month, entitled National State of Patient Safety 2022.

This is the first of two reports conducted by the college pro-bono, according to the charity's accounts.

The accounts state that the charity provided research and supported the development of former chair Hunt's book, 'Zero: Eliminating unnecessary deaths in a post-pandemic NHS'.

“Our chairman pledged to donate to the charity any advance he received for a book on patient safety and all royalties due to him from its sales,” the accounts read.

“We therefore provided research into various aspects of patient safety to support the writing of the book.”

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