A nursing union last night defended a Warwickshire hospital boss after she resigned over the trust's #12 million deficit, and urged the Government to "stop blaming everybody else" for the NHS cash crisis.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) spoke out after Janet Monk-man stepped down as chief executive of South Warwickshire General Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Warwick and Stratford hospitals.
Ms Monkman - described by the College as "one of the good guys" - left, according to the trust, after accepting she was ultimately responsible for it being in dire financial straits.
It is believed she would not entertain the idea of axing jobs in order to balance its books.
The RCN's criticisms came amid the prospect of more job losses in the NHS, this time at the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust.
One of the largest NHS teaching trusts in the country, it was claimed last night to be preparing to axe up to 600 jobs. It declined to confirm the figure but said compulsory redundancies may be in the pipeline.
The RCN said trust bosses could only work with the funding they were given and it was time the Government took responsibility for the financial peril the NHS faced.
Ann Leedham-Smith, the union's regional spokeswoman, said: "I spoke to Janet Monkman a few weeks ago and everyone at the RCN is sorry to see her go; she was one of the good guys. She was not prepared to go down the route of redundancies just to make ends meet, because, being a nurse originally, she knew what impact that could have on hospital services.
"I cannot blame chief executives for these deficits when the Government has ploughed ahead with new GP contracts and consultants' pay; really the finger should be pointed at them.
"The Government must learn to stop blaming everybody else and start looking at themselves instead."
Ms Monkman, who joined the trust in 2003 and has tackled major debts for the past two years, will be replaced by interim chief executive Graham Smith, who is also chief executive of George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust, in Nuneaton.
Trust chairman Margaret Pratt paid tribute to Ms Monkman's commitment to the trust, its patients and staff.
She said: "Janet has been tireless in her work for the trust. Her acknowledgement of her accountability for the financial problems is entirely consistent with her professionalism and integrity.
"She will be greatly missed by the many friends and supporters of the trust in our local communities, by colleagues and by staff."
Hospital trusts as a whole are facing debits estimated at more than #600 million. By last Thursday, more than 11,500 NHS posts had been lost and the RCN said the final number could be 13,000.