A HOSPITAL trust chairman who claimed that doctors' first duty was not

to their patients was criticised yesterday by the head of his

professional body.

Mr Roy Lilley was invited to explain himself by Mr Philip Hunt, the

director of the National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts.

Mr Lilley, chairman of the Homewood NHS Trust in Chertsey, Surrey,

claimed doctors' first priority was to the organisations they worked in.

Their duty to patients was only third on the list, he was reported as

saying in a Sunday newspaper.

His views were condemned by the British Medical Association and the

Department of Health dissociated itself from them, pointing out that

Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley had always believed patients must

come first.

In an article to be published later this month in HealthCare Today, Mr

Lilley lists three priorities for medical staff.

''The first duty is a loyalty to the organisation they work in,'' he

writes. ''The second duty of doctors is to themselves. They must get

themselves organised and properly trained.

''Only when doctors work as part of a team, agree to be properly

qualified, tested, and brought up to date can they discharge their third

responsibility -- their duty to patients.''

He also said that there should be regular testing of doctors to enable

managers to measure performance.

Speaking in a BBC Radio 4 interview yesterday Mr Lilley added that the

days of the ''Carry On'' NHS, ''with Lancelot Spratt coming into the

ward and causing chaos'', were over.

''Patients want to be treated, I think, more like Marks and Spencers

than ''Carry On'' the NHS,'' he said.

Mr Hunt said that ''the paramount duty'' of doctors should be to

patients. He continued: ''The key to improving the NHS is for doctors

and managers to work in partnership to drive up the quality of care and

clinical effectiveness of treatment given to patients. This is happening

in the vast majority of our hospitals.

''If you come out with statements about how awful doctors are you are

going to undermine that partnership.''

He described Mr Lilley's remarks as ''not particularly helpful'', and

said: ''I certainly think Mr Lilley should explain himself some more.''

Dr James Johnson, chairman of the BMA's consultants' committee,

described Mr Lilley's views as ''completely outrageous''.

Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley should say whether she backed Mr

Lilley. He said: ''A trust chairman is a political appointment and Mrs

Bottomley has to take some responsibility for his claims.''

The Department of Health stressed that Mr Lilley's views did not

reflect those of Mrs Bottomley.