Hospital trust chief criticised by MP over Government Rwanda plans Nazi claim

The Friarage Hospital.

A hospital trust CEO has angered an MP after liking a message on social media comparing Government plans to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda to the incarceration of Jews in Auschwitz.

Sir Simon Clarke said the conduct displayed by Stacey Hunter, who began work in February after being appointed to oversee the South and North Tees hospital trusts, was “simply not appropriate” and he was disappointed in “such overt politicisation” from a senior member of the local NHS.

Ms Hunter liked and re-posted a message from a fellow user of X – formerly Twitter – which referred to the horrors and cruelty experienced by victims at the hands of the Nazis in the concentration camp during the Second World War.

The original post said: “I couldn’t comprehend that humans were capable of such evil.

“I remember thinking how did ordinary Germans feel?

“I think I know now. I’m ashamed.”

It was signed off with the hashtag ‘RwandaNotInMyName’.

Sir Simon, who represents the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency for the Conservatives and has been a supporter of the Government’s Rwanda Bill, said: “I hope Ms Hunter will delete this tweet and I will be writing to the chairman of the local NHS board to ask him to emphasise that this kind of behaviour is simply not appropriate.”

A spokeswoman for the South Tees trust, whose hospitals include the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and The Friarage in Northallerton – which is in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s constituency – said the content relating to the hospital boss had now been deleted.

She said Ms Hunter, who earns up to £200,000 a year, would “reflect” on the MP’s comments, adding: “Stacey will meet with Simon Clarke in the coming weeks and will address any concerns at that point”.

Sir Simon, who was briefly in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Liz Truss, said: “This tweet is deeply, deeply offensive and I for one make no apology whatsoever for believing that if you come to the UK illegally, you should not be allowed to remain here.”

The bio on Ms Hunter’s home page on X describes her as being ‘Privileged and proud to work in the NHS’ with a love of dogs, the sea and laughter.

She took up her current post after spending three years as CEO at the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust in Wiltshire and began her career in the NHS in 1990 working as a nurse in Hull and Leeds.

Plans to send some asylum seekers to the east-central African country of Rwanda were ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court with a bill then being introduced in Parliament and approved by a majority of MPs, despite opposition, allowing the scheme to go ahead. It means asylum seekers entering the UK illegally can be sent to Rwanda and have their claims processed there, rather than in the UK.

If successful they could be granted refugee status and allowed to stay. If not, they could apply to settle in Rwanda on other grounds or seek asylum in another safe third country. No asylum seeker would be able to apply to return to the UK.

The aim is to deter waves of migrants from arriving in the UK on small boats crossing the English Channel, a dangerous practice driven by criminal trafficking gangs which has led to deaths from drowning.