Hospital boss Julia Bridgewater is 'too sad' to say goodbye
DEPARTING hospital boss Julia Bridgewater pulled out of her final public appointment after becoming overcome by emotion.
The chief executive was due to attend a cheque presentation on her last day at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire where she has spent her entire 27-year career.
But instead, she stayed in her own department and said goodbye to her staff and closest colleagues.
However, speaking after a private leaving party attended by around 300 doctors and other staff on Thursday night, Mrs Bridgewater said: "I am so flattered by all this support and, while I am so sad to leave the hospital I love, it is right to move on and pursue new opportunities."
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The respected departing boss was given a rousing and emotional send-off at the event, at the Moathouse in Etruria.
Accompanied by her husband, Nick, and her three children, she was thanked in speeches led by medical director Dr Gavin Russell and his predecessor, Robert Courteney-Harris, who is currently seconded to Stafford Hospital.
She was also presented with the Chief Executive's Award, which she usually hands to the employee showing most commitment each year.
Charity leaders behind the hand-over to the hospital's appeal for a new scanner yesterday added their own tributes to the hundreds which have poured in since Mrs Bridgewater announced her resignation two weeks ago.
She is stepping down from the post she has held for six years amid deepening financial problems at the hospital.
Senior doctors have said her 'inspirational leadership' had helped bring to the area some world-class services, particularly for people having strokes, breaking their hips, suffering heart failure and needing treatment for traumatic injuries.
The cheque presentation went ahead despite Mrs Bridgewater's absence.
Managers from the x-ray department received £1,000 from the North Staffordshire Zipper Club (British Cardiac Patients Association) and £500 from the North Staffordshire Heart Committee.
Tony Berry, chairman of the committee which has raised more than £5 million for heart equipment for the hospital, said: "The support Mrs Bridgewater has had from her staff – and particularly the consultants – is quite remarkable and must be unique in the NHS.
"Our charity and all the others supporting the hospital have always found Julia genuinely appreciative of our work and she has continually recognised how it has helped the hospital develop services that are the best around."
The gifts took the total to £175,000 towards the PET scanner appeal target of £250,000.