Sir Robert Francis QC will lead an independent review of policy to protect and support NHS staff who speak up, following a meeting with a former Ealing hospital worke
An independent review will be undertaken to protect NHS staff who speak out, after whistleblowers related their stories to Jeremy Hunt.
Sharmila Chowdhury, 54, of Ealing, was one of six people who met with the secretary of state for health and the head of the NHS Simon Stevens on June 19 . The review should begin in the next couple of months and is to be completed in November (2014).
Miss Chowdhury reported two consultants for allegedly working at a private hospital when they were supposed to be working at Ealing Hospital on regular occasions between 2006 and 2009. She received a letter from Mr Hunt after the meeting.
The Health Secretary said the meeting was an important opportunity to hear testimonies and witnesses’ determination to bring about a crucial task: fundamentally changing the NHS culture so workers feel safe enough to raise concerns.
Mr Hunt said in his letter dated June 24: “I have been reflecting on what we heard and the ideas discussed at the meeting and have decided to ask Sir Robert Francis QC to lead an independent review of policy to protect and support NHS staff who speak up. “Sir Robert will consider what can be done to ensure that, if NHS whistleblowers are mistreated in the future, there are appropriate remedies for them and accountability for those mistreating them.”
Miss Chowdhury said: “It’s not a solution but it’s a way forward- at last they are doing something and it could be that whistleblowers are protected to a certain degree but they need to be looking at individual cases and putting in the correct measures.“Unfortunately, it’s not a public inquiry as we asked for however it’s a step in the right direction.”
Miss Chowdhury worked for the NHS for 30 years and has been fighting for a positive outcome to her case since 2009 when she first made the fraud allegations. The 54-year-old was dismissed from Ealing Hospital when counter fraud allegations were made about her and despite being cleared in a hearing, did not get her job back.
A spokesman for Ealing Hospital NHS Trust said: “The trust does and will support any development that enhances openness and transparency in the NHS.”