1. Tell us briefly about yourself–
I’m 66. I have been married to a lovely woman for 43 years. We have 4 happily married children and (so far) 8 grandchildren. I qualified as a doctor in Bristol and trained there and in Birmingham to be a paediatrician.From 1977 to 1984 I worked in refugee camps in Indo-China and then at a University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria. After coming home for our children’s education I worked as a locum paediatric consultant in the West Midlands. From 1992 to 2010 I was a full-time consultant at the Manor Hospital in Walsall. In 2010 I was dismissed for Gross Misconduct and Insubordination. I have been unable to work as a paediatrician since then. I have unsuccessfully pursued Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust in the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal. I now work full time campaigning for the protection of NHS whistleblowers.
2. What inspired you to write a book?-
My eldest son, Simon, a PhD paeleo-ecologist pressurised me into it. I found it too painful, too wearying to go over the old ground and construct an interesting and readable narrative. Simon gave me the start and once I got going, with his insights and energy, I found a story I knew had to be told.
3. Tell us about the book-
It’s autobiographical. It begins with the disciplinary hearing in which the Director of Nursing at Walsall, Sue Hartley (I have used real names throughout), pronounces the death sentence over my medical career. The following chapters are a retrospective of childhood, medical school, postgraduate training and our years working abroad. After some years working as a consultant locum I arrive, in chapter 10, in Walsall. I have 9 enjoyable years doing mainly clinical work before being appointed head of department.
The “Troubles” occupy the years 2008 to 2010. These are the years in which I raise serious concerns about a paediatric consultant’s competency and conduct and subsequently mismanagement and service failure including major problems with child protection. This leads ultimately to my dismissal. I describe the internal disciplinary procedures and my recourse to law. It is an on-going story but in chapter 45 I find a resolution in a different kind of life.
4. Who is it suitable for?–
Its for anyone interested in justice. Justice for patients and their relatives. justice for frontline staff who are bullied and punished for raising concerns. I believe every NHS frontline worker will appreciate, enjoy and learn from this story. Politicians, NHS managers, whistleblowers will benefit from reading it. Walsall Healthcare senior management seized upon an aspect of my rather quiet Christian faith to help destroy my career using a technicality in employment law. I believe those of any faith or none will learn about the importance of peaceful coexistence in society and in he workplace from my story. It is written in appreciation of some of the medical and nursing staff at Walsall Manor Hospital who suffered under an oppressive administration from 2008 to 2010.
Patients and parents who are sometimes left wondering what is going on inside the NHS will learn from this account of what can happen in a poorly led hospital. I wrote this book also for the family of Kyle Keen. “Kyle was unlawfully killed following catastrophic failures in basic safeguarding at Walsall Manor Hospital” as the dedication page reads.His family were never told this. I asked a Royal College of Paediatrics review panel to investigate this but they ignored me. To this day Kyle’s family have not learned what these failures were, how they were allowed to happen or why they have never been told.
5. What is your favourite part in the book?-
I cannot choose. There is so much here about life and death, truth and lies, patient safety and harm, philanthropy and self-interest. I cannot choose. My theme ultimately is about truth, forgiveness and reconciliation. I have survived as a ruined whistleblower because I need to forgive the people who did this to me and the journey towards that place (I have not yet fully arrived) has taught me things about myself I did not know and provided me with resources I knew nothing about. In the words of Joseph to his brothers who had sold him into Egyptian slavery, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good”. (Genesis 50:20) I am convinced good will come from my experience and from this book.
Select to purchase The Little Stories of Life and death
Tel: 01162 792 299
e-book will be available in a week
“A book the NHS has been waiting for.”
Dr Phil Hammond, Private Eye