Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital cancer scandal: Cleared after four-year fight! Victory for NHS whistle-blower

Express & Star 23 January 2016
The whistle-blower who lifted the lid on the chemotherapy cancer scandal at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust has been cleared of misconduct after a four-year battle to clear his name, the Express & Star can reveal.
Professor David Ferry, who has been cleared of misconduct after a four-year battle

In October Professor David Ferry revealed that at least 55 patients were given extra chemotherapy treatment they did not need between 2005 and 2010.

Following his revelations Professor Ferry – who has asked the Express & Star to name him in this article – had his integrity called into question by trust bosses.

They issued a press release stating he was under investigation for ‘serious misconduct’, referenced his alleged ‘poor practice’ and accused him of ‘pursuing his own agenda’.

The General Medical Council (GMC) placed restrictions on Prof Ferry in March 2015 in light of concerns regarding his clinical practice and alleged resistance to ‘working effectively’ with colleagues at New Cross Hospital.

Now the council’s Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) has removed the conditions and cleared him to return to practice should he wish to do so.

A letter to Professor Ferry seen by the Express & Star, read: “The panel is satisfied that there is no basis for the interim order to remain and has determined to revoke the interim order of conditions.”

Prof Ferry was the subject of four separate investigations launched by bosses at New Cross Hospital spanning a four-year period and involving more than 100 allegations.

In 2009 he had told bosses of concerns about the extra chemotherapy, which was administered by Dr Margaret King and Dr Mark Churn.

The trust audited the treatment given to 32 men and 11 women at New Cross Hospital and his fears were confirmed.

He was subsequently accused of bullying and harassment by Dr King and subjected to a two-year investigation. He was suspended by the trust in October 2013 and resigned the following January. Prof Ferry has accused the trust of pursuing a vendetta against him. Speaking exclusively to the Express & Star, Prof Ferry said: “After four years of continuous unfounded allegations being raised, accusing me of harassment and bullying or conducting audits and raising concerns, I have no sense of victory.”

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust declined to comment on the GMC’s findings.

COMMENT: Brave few could save more lives

Professor David Ferry raised concerns that unnecessary prolonged and harmful chemotherapy had been administered to patients at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.He found that 55 patients had been given chemotherapy they did not need, and their families were not informed until years after the treatment had been given.

When the scandal came to light in October last year trust bosses apologised, blaming a ‘departmental failure’ for using the unproven treatment methods that had no medical use.

They also attempted to discredit Professor Ferry. They took the extraordinary step of naming him – a move that flies in the face of NHS promises to respect the anonymity of whistleblowers.

He had restrictions placed on his rights to practice, was subjected to four separate investigations and faced more than 100 allegations.

He was eventually suspended after being accused of bullying by one of the doctors who administered the extra cancer treatment. Now, after a lengthy battle to clear his name, Professor Ferry has been told by the General Medical Council he is able to return to practice.

We are pleased to hear Professor Ferry has since embarked on a new chapter of his career in the United States. But his situation once again raises the wider question about the shoddy treatment of whistleblowers by the NHS.

He asked us to name him in today’s Express & Star because he rightly wants the world to know he has been cleared. We can only assume the NHS had very different motives when they put his name into the public eye.

Sadly, his case is one of many.

In recent years health bosses have been criticised on numerous occasions for the way the NHS deals with those that dare to point out poor care and inadequate patient safety.

The cases include Dr Raj Mattu, who was sacked by a trust in 2010 after 200 allegations were levelled against him, all of which proved to be false.

He had raised concerns about overcrowding in a cardiac ward, a situation which led to the death of a patient.

Whistleblowers provide a vital service in terms of holding the NHS to account. Their bravery can save lives.

But health bosses have created an environment where coming forward can have terrible consequences for the careers of those brave enough to do so.

If only someone had been bold enough to raise the alarm at Stafford Hospital at an earlier stage.

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