A CONTROVERSIAL public-private partnership which cost Cornwall Council's leader his job has been thrown into disarray after a key player pulled out.
The Cornwall Strategic Partnership was designed to bring together the council, healthcare organisations and BT to share services.
But at a behind-closed-doors board meeting of the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT), members decided to terminate their involvement.
Lezli Boswell, chief executive of the RCHT, said in a message to staff: "I want to let you know that the RCHT Board agreed to formally withdraw from the Cornwall Strategic Partnership – the project with Cornwall Council and other healthcare partners to develop shared services in Cornwall.
"The board decision was made following changes to the scope of the project and consideration of legal advice.
"The trust will now pursue alternative options for developing our IT and health records services to meet future staff and patient needs."
The partnership now has just three members – Cornwall Council, Peninsula Community Health, the private company running cottage hospitals, and Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust, responsible for mental health services.
A spokesman for Cornwall Council said: "We are disappointed by the decision by the RCHT board to withdraw from the strategic partnership.
"We will now need to consider the implications of this decision with our other health partners before deciding what course of action is to be taken."
A spokesman for Peninsula Community Health, a not-for-profit company, said: "We have heard the news and we are now looking at the options."
Meanwhile a spokesman for the partnership trust said it was seeking more detail.
Labour councillor Jude Robinson said: "RCHT is an important partner and their withdrawal will make a big difference."
The controversial arrangement would have seen a wholly-owned company created to run key services. His support for it led to Alec Robertson being voted from his post as council leader in October.