Suzanne Goodband quits as chair of Island Health Trust while Charities Commission probe into funding continues
PUBLISHED: 13:38 18 December 2018 | UPDATED: 15:50 19 December 2018
Suzanne Goodband has quit as chair of the controversial Island Health NHS trust after questions in Parliament and a Charities Commission investigation into its public funding.
She quit in the face of two years’ campaigning by the Isle of Dogs community, Tower Hamlets Council and the Poplar and Limehouse MP questioning in Parliament what’s happened to NHS funds poured into Island Health clinic.
Much of the cash has been paid as “consultancy fees” into Suzanne Goodband Interim Solutions Ltd which she solely owns, public accounts show.
Two other trustees quit on the same say, Simon Lovell and Michael Cooper.
“I call for all the remaining trustees appointed by Suzanne Goodband to resign,” Tower Hamlets Cllr Peter Golds told the East London Advertiser.
“The entire first floor of the practice has remained empty because of her wanting to charge the practice high rent. This space is still being marketed.”
He is urging the Charities Commission to continue the investigation into Goodband’s actions of “paying herself huge sums of taxpayers’ money for her consultancy”.
Suzanne Goodband lists on her CV having stepped down from Island Health and moving onto Arsenal FC in north London.
Cllr Golds, an ardent Gunners fan, added: “As a lifelong Arsenal supporter, I don’t want anyone with such a controversial past being involved and will be writing to the club to express my concerns.”
Calls are now being made for a completely fresh board of “untainted” trustees to bring Island Health Trust back under local accountability.
Tower Hamlets Cllr Andrew Wood who represents Canary Wharf and part of the Isle of Dogs, said: “It’s essential that local trustees are appointed - only then can we believe the trust is being run for the benefit of local people as originally intended.”
Mayor John Biggs summoned Goodband to a face-to-face meeting at the town hall earlier this year after publicly demanding her resignation.
He said in a statement to the Advertiser: “I’ve been calling for her to quit for a long time—she still has serious questions to answer about the amount of public money paid to her own consultancy firm.
“We now need a strong board focused on good governance and local accountability.”
The Charities Commission started an investigation in November, 2017, which is still going on, into the trust’s NHS funding and the £3.1 million public assets it holds.
Trustees were warned in a Commons debate in March to “cooperate with the investigation” which would pass evidence to the police if it uncovers criminal offences, MPs were told.
Poplar and Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick told the Commons: “There are serious questions about the £349,000 paid to a consulting company solely owned by Suzanne Goodband which is 68 per cent of the charity’s income over two years. Trustees approving payment for periods before they were appointed seems to border on fraud and possibly criminal.”
The trust was paid the NHS money over two years—while GPs were being priced out of the building with rent rises.
The Charity Commission later confirmed that the consultancy company “received significant benefits from the charity” and questioned if it was in the best interests of the trust.
Island Health was handed its two-storey premises in East Ferry Road in trust by the Docklands Development Corporation 30 years ago. It has since been referred to Tower Hamlets Council’s legal department to “restore local accountability”.
The Advertiser has contacted Suzanne Goodband for comment.