West Middlesex Hospital's outgoing chief executive Tara Donnelly may have been made a 'scapegoat' to cover up general failings at the hospital, according to health campaigners and politicians.
Ms Donnelly's resignation last week has prompted rife speculation over the reasons for her departure and concerns about the ability of the hospital's A&E department to cope with high winter demand.
The Chronicle reported last week how Ms Donnelly decided to step down after it emerged eight patients were left waiting for hospital beds for more than 12 hours.
The incidents on January 19 followed an appeal by hospital chiefs a week earlier for patients to stay away unless they had a genuine emergency because of 'surprisingly' high admissions over the holiday period.
"There has been concerns over West Mid going back a while now," said John Hunt, once a chairman of the hospital's old patient forum.
"However, I think Tara has been used as a sacrificial scapegoat so they can pretend that everything is going to be wonderful now.
"West Mid needs the whole trust board to roll up their sleeves and start turning things around.
"Although we were hoping for positive changes when Tara replaced Gail Wannell, they can't expect an individual to be able to do it on their own."
The hospital announced this week that Dame Jacqueline Doherty, the current deputy chief executive at King's College Hospital, has been appointed acting chief executive and will take up the reins on February 23. A government task force will also be conducting a review of the hospital's emergency admissions procedures.
"Whether her replacement will be any better I don't know, but it's up to the local people, including the press, to exert pressure on the trust so when people are admitted to the hospital they aren't quivering with fear," added Mr Hunt, who lives near the hospital in Twickenham Road.
Vince Cable MP, whose Twickenham constituents use the West Mid,v oiced similar concerns.
"It's totally unsatisfactory that we have these failures," he said.
"I worry that the chief executive may have become a scapegoat for their failings in the hospital system. Tara seemed to be perfectly competent, and the circumstances are very strange.
"My second concern is with the abolition of the patient forum and before that the health council, there is now no lane of communication between the hospital and the public, there's no way of reflecting patient's concerns.
"This is giving rise to a climate of rumour and suspicion. The Governments' decision to remove these forums is very dangerous, we now have to accept the word of the hospital."
A spokeswoman for West Middlesex Hospital said: "Tara's resignation was a personal decision reached by her after careful consideration.
"Her resignation was purely in response to the incident involving the eight patients in A&E waiting longer than the acceptable time."