Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, to meet group of NHS whistleblowers who claim he is not doing enough to help them
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to meet six NHS whistleblowers who claim he is not doing enough to help them. The group are headed by a radiographer who was sacked after exposing corruption at her local hospital.
Sharmila Chowdhury claims Mr Hunt has refused so far to intervene in her case and ensure she is restored to her job.
Mr Hunt has in the past said that whistleblowers in the health service should be free from persecution by their employers.
However, the group claim he must now back his words up with action.
Mrs Chowdhury said: “He says he supports whistleblowers but when it comes down to helping people like myself we find we are abandoned. “We speak up for patient safety and we lose our jobs and often our careers.”
Mr Hunt has spoken in the past about the need for openness in the NHS and earlier this year intervened in the case of a whistleblower who was being threatened with disciplinary action by Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust.
Mrs Chowdhury found in 2009 that consultants she managed at Ealing Hospital had been charging NHS patients for scans. They were also claiming for working in their NHS posts when they were at their private practices. But senior trust managers shielded the consultants, accused Mrs Chowdhury of fraud and sacked her.
Mrs Chowdhury, who is now seriously ill with breast cancer, said: “I am out of work and may lose my home because I can no longer afford to pay the mortgage. I need help urgently.”
Others attending the meeting include Professor Edwin Jesudason, forced out of his job as paediatric surgeon at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool after alleging that children had died and suffered harm due to poor surgery.
Nurse Annabelle Blackburn, who was sacked after revealing that patient’s lives were being put at risk by a chaotically run GP practice in Oxford, and Dr David Drew, a paediatric consultant from Walsall, fired after exposing safety concerns on his wards, will also meet with the Health Secretary.
Joining them will also be Jenny Fecitt, sacked as a nurse manager for raising safety concerns at an NHS walk in centre in Manchester and Professor Narinderr Kapur consultant neuropsychologist and head of neuropsychology at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, removed after voicing his concerns about patient safety.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “The Health Secretary has agreed to meet a number of whistleblowers to see how he can help.” Fiona Bell of Cure the NHS North East, who is helping broker the meeting with the Health Secretary, said: “Mr Hunt needs to be seen to do something concrete in addition to giving verbal support “You can’t have a Secretary of State for Health who says he supports whistleblowers and does nothing when they ask him for help. Hopefully this meeting will lead to action.”