Whistleblower outed by hospital bosses in cancer drugs cover-up: Health chiefs try to discredit and reveal name of professor

By PAUL BENTLEY AND KATHERINE FAULKNER FOR THE DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 14 October 2015

* Professor revealed patients were needlessly put through chemotherapy
* Had wished to remain anonymous after disclosing ‘macabre experiment’
* Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust named whistleblower in a statement
* Tried to discredit him by stating restrictions had been put on his ability to practice

An NHS whistleblower who revealed patients were needlessly put through the agony of chemotherapy has been outed by his bosses.
The professor wished to remain anonymous after disclosing the ‘macabre experiment’ carried out by colleagues.

But health chiefs tried to discredit him yesterday in a statement described as ‘obscene victimisation’.
The whistleblower had previously been gagged from warning the public about his concerns by bosses at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.
The chemotherapy was administered in defiance of strict guidelines by oncologists Dr Margaret King, pictured, and Dr Mark Churn to patients with colorectal cancer

The chemotherapy was administered in defiance of strict guidelines by oncologists Dr Margaret King, pictured, and Dr Mark Churn to patients with colorectal cancerThe chemotherapy was administered in defiance of strict guidelines by oncologists Dr Margaret King, and Dr Mark Churn, pictured, to patients with colorectal cancer

The chemotherapy was administered in defiance of strict guidelines by oncologists Dr Margaret King, and Dr Mark Churn, pictured, to patients with colorectal cancer

The chemotherapy was administered in defiance of strict guidelines by oncologists Dr Margaret King, left, and Dr Mark Churn, right, to patients with colorectal cancer
He was also subjected to racist abuse, which became the focus of a criminal investigation.
Last night, MPs and campaigners demanded intervention from the Health Secretary.
Former colleagues of the whistleblower also contacted the Mail to speak out about his ‘horrendous treatment’.
One said: ‘The whistleblower was one of the most valued members of staff. There has been a witchhunt to silence him. Instead of tarnishing his name they should apologise to the patients.’
The Daily Mail yesterday revealed how 55 patients aged between 49 and 83 were wrongly exposed to chemotherapy by two doctors between 2005 and 2009.
The chemotherapy, which was administered against guidelines, was of no medical use to the patients because their type of cancer required different treatment. But it exposed them to horrific and unnecessary side effects including higher risk of fatal infections and lost fertility.

At least one patient suffered long-term harm and several developed neuropathy – nerve damage that causes stabbing pains, excruciating sensitivity to cold or heat and, in extreme cases, paralysis or organ failure.
In a shocking cover up, the cancer victims were not told about the blunder for six years and, by that time, 29 had died.
The Mail has protected the identity of the whistleblower, whose allegations have been confirmed by internal and external investigations and NHS watchdogs. But the trust yesterday named him in a statement published on its website – even though the whistleblower wishes to remain anonymous. Bosses attempted to discredit him by stating that the General Medical Council has placed restrictions on his ability to practice because of ‘allegations of serious misconduct’.
The statement did not mention that the trust made the referral to the GMC. It is standard practice for temporary restrictions to be placed on the licence of any doctor during investigations into a serious complaint.
Last night, the whistleblower said: ‘It is a fantasy that exists in Westminster that whistleblowers are protected. Hospitals will do anything to protect their reputations.
‘I was gagged, repeatedly threatened and ridiculed. The trust is still trying to create an illusion that nothing significant happened to these patients. The treatment they were given causes soreness of the mouth so severe you cannot eat, nerve damage that means you cannot do up buttons or use a knife and fork.

The Daily Mail yesterday revealed how 55 patients aged between 49 and 83 were wrongly exposed to chemotherapy by two doctors between 2005 and 2009 (file picture)
The Daily Mail yesterday revealed how 55 patients aged between 49 and 83 were wrongly exposed to chemotherapy by two doctors between 2005 and 2009 (file picture)

‘Taste disappears, appetite is gone. There is hair thinning and spasms in the voicebox. And all for nothing.’ The Mail yesterday revealed how the chemotherapy was administered in defiance of strict guidelines by oncologists Dr Margaret King and Dr Mark Churn to patients with colorectal cancer.
The standard treatment for this form of bowel cancer is about one month of a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, before a break of about six to 12 weeks and then surgery.
But Dr King, who is originally from Warsaw, prescribed up to 20 weeks of Folfox, a particularly strong form of extra chemotherapy for her patients before the month of standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Dr King, 46, and Dr Churn, 52, also prescribed unnecessary chemotherapy in the run up to surgery. The pair are still practising and do not appear to have faced disciplinary action.
In contrast, the whistleblower, after raising concerns in 2009, he was accused of bullying and harassment by Dr King and subjected to a two-year investigation. He was even told he would excluded from an external investigation into the claims.

Police were called to New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton after someone entered the whistleblowers office and wrote racist graffiti on the wall
Police were called to New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton after someone entered the whistleblowers office and wrote racist graffiti on the wall
Police were called to New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton after someone entered the whistleblowers office and wrote racist graffiti on the wall
In June 2012, police had to be called to New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton after someone entered his office, damaged personal family photographs and wrote racist graffiti on the wall.
He left his job in January 2014 and now works abroad.
Tory MP Andrew Percy, who sits on the health select committee, called on the health secretary to intervene. He said: ‘It is disgusting that the trust has put his name out.’
Tory MP Charlotte Leslie added: ‘The cover-up is unforgivable, and the victimisation of the whistleblower obscene.’
Dr King and Dr Churn declined to comment. A spokesman for the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust said it had not tried to gag the whistleblower. ‘It is normal practice that individuals are instructed to maintain confidentiality around conduct-related allegations under investigation.’

Were you involved or do you know any of the patients involved? Contact investigations@dailymail.co.uk or telephone 0203 615 1759

4 thoughts on “Whistleblower outed by hospital bosses in cancer drugs cover-up: Health chiefs try to discredit and reveal name of professor

  1. What is new? Shoot the messenger of bad or unsafe practice; NHS, government and tribunals all support the strategy while the regulators put the professionals under obligation to adhere to their codes of protecting patients. Whistleblower is damned if he does just that and damned if chooses not to.

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