IT’S a case of hello and goodbye at Basildon Hospital , with chief executive Alan Whittle stepping down and his replacement, Clare Panniker, stepping into his shoes.

Nine months after Mr Whittle announced he was leaving, Mrs Panniker started her new £153,000-a-year job as chief executive of Basildon and Orsett hospital NHS trust last week.

Mrs Panniker, who has been chief executive of the North Middlesex Hospital NHS Trust for the past eight years, said: “I join the trust at a pivotal time. Much has been achieved and there is much to be proud of.”

Mr Whittle announced plans to move on in January. He had been in charge of the hospital since 2004 and steered the trust through some of its most difficult times.

During his term at Basildon he had to handle issues including a much-publicised A&E hygiene scandal, 14 cases of Legionnaires’ disease and the death of Kyle Flack, in October 2006.

Severely disabled Kyle, 20, of Corringham was admitted for a stomach complaint, but died after his head became trapped between the rails of his hospital bed, suffocating him.

The hospital was later fined £50,000 for failing in its duty of care towards Kyle and Mr Whittle faced public calls to resign. However, he vowed to carry on.

Hinting she was aware of the need for a fresh start at the hospital, Mrs Panniker said “As in any hospital which seeks to provide excellent quality of care, there is more to be done.

“I look forward to leading the trust through this important next phase.”

Last week, the hospital declared it was finally winning the war on Legionnaires’ which had damaged its reputation. Officials assured patients there was now just a one million chance of contracting the pneumonia-like bug l Mr Whittle is not the only senior manager who is on the move.

Medical director Dr Stephen Morgan announced two weeks ago he was leaving to concentrate on running a full time community medical practice in the community.