3 December 2016
- David Loughton, CEO at Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, kept his job
- He used taxpayers’ money to fight staff who raise concerns about safety
- Dr Raj Mattu was sacked after he exposed that two patients had died
- Their deaths had been a result of dangerously overcrowded bays
The NHS was accused of a whitewash this evening after a hospital boss who spent £10million suppressing whistleblowers was cleared by an official report.
David Loughton, who earned £260,000 last year, has been allowed to keep his job despite using taxpayers’ money to fight staff who raised serious concerns about patient safety.
The review into how Mr Loughton’s hospital trust is being run would only go as far as saying that he had ‘an impulsive and honest style’. It appears he will now face no disciplinary action and no sanctions will be taken against him.
David Loughton is the chief executive at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust
Whistleblowers who were forced out of their jobs by Mr Loughton were not even interviewed for the report, and only found out the review had been published when contacted by the Mail.
In a further twist, it has emerged that the consultancy firm chosen by the NHS to do the review has been paid £78,837 by Mr Loughton’s trust for other jobs this year.
Deloitte was paid £45,444 for the review by watchdog NHS Improvement.
Mr Loughton, 62, chief executive at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, is renowned for fighting whistleblowers through the courts.
They include leading heart surgeon Dr Raj Mattu, who was vilified and sacked after he exposed that two patients had died in dangerously overcrowded bays in a hospital at another trust run by Mr Loughton.
Dr Mattu was cleared at a tribunal and in February was awarded £1.2million damages.
Manager Sandra Haynes Kirkbright was also suspended after raising concerns that Mr Loughton’s Woverhampton trust had mis-recorded deaths, making it look like fewer patients had died needlessly.
An investigation into her case condemned the trust for its ‘significantly flawed’ and ‘unfair’ treatment.
It described an account of how Mr Loughton made sure Mrs Haynes Kirkbright was ‘out of the way’ before a visit from hospital inspectors, telling staff to ‘kick this into the long grass’.
After the report into her case was published in May, NHS watchdogs ordered a review into the management of Mr Loughton’s hospital trust.
But the results of that review were only quietly published on the trust’s website earlier this week. And it emerged that Deloitte was instructed to focus on the hospital as it is now, rather than considering previous whistleblowing cases.
As a result, the report’s authors did not contact Dr Mattu, Mrs Haynes Kirkbright or former board members who have criticised the management. They did not check what they were told by Mr Loughton and his employees, writing in the review: ‘We have assumed that the information provided to us and management’s representations are complete, accurate and reliable.’
Describing Mr Loughton, the report stated: ‘The chief executive is a strong character with an impulsive style and can attract controversy from time to time. However, he is strongly supported.’ It added: ‘Any past behavioural challenges have tempered in recent years.’
Today Dr Mattu said: ‘They have taken at face value everything management has said. I have great experience of Mr Loughton and he ruthlessly attacks anyone who dissents. He has persecuted whistleblowers. This has been a disgraceful waste of taxpayers’ money.’
Dr Raj Mattu, from Warwick, was vilified and sacked after he exposed that two patients had died in dangerously overcrowded bays in a hospital at another trust run by Mr Loughton
Dr Mattu, right, pictured with his wife Sangita. The stress of 200 false allegations against the heart surgeon left him too sick to work
Mrs Haynes Kirkbright said: ‘I was not consulted at all on this report. I didn’t know a thing about it until the Mail told me.’
Professor David Ferry was outed last year by Mr Loughton’s hospital after he anonymously revealed in the Mail that 55 cancer patients were needlessly put through the agony of chemotherapy.
This evening, he said: ‘They have whitewashed everything. I told them about Dr Mattu, about Sandra, about my case, but they said this is about the future, not the past. They have rewritten history their way, whatever the facts are.’
Mr Loughton, an NHS chief executive for 28 years, was awarded a pay rise of about £35,000 last year.
He joined Royal Wolverhampton in 2014 after 14 years at Coventry’s Walsgrave Hospital.
Mr Loughton said: ‘We are pleased with the review’s conclusions. Our number one priority is always patient care. Having an open and transparent culture is one of the ways in which we can ensure we remain committed to providing the best care we possibly can.
‘We are always seeking ways in which we can improve and we will take on board the recommendations the review makes.’
A trust spokesman said NHS Improvement commissioned Deloitte to do the review and ‘in line with many other organisations we have used the services of Deloitte’.
NHS Improvement said: ‘Deloitte were appointed following a formal and thorough tendering and evaluation process.’
Deloitte declined to comment.
HEART SURGEON’S CAREER WAS RUINED
Dr Raj Mattu was accused of fraud, sexual impropriety and assault after revealing that two patients had died in dangerously overcrowded bays at Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry.
The University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust – which was then run by Mr Loughton – submitted 200 false allegations against the leading heart surgeon , according to his lawyer. The stress eventually left him too sick to work.
In a case that ran for 15 years and cost more than £10million of taxpayers’ money, bosses attacked his reputation in a witch-hunt to silence him and stop other potential whistleblowers from speaking out.
Dr Mattu, 57, who is married to Sangeeta, 46, was finally vindicated in February when it emerged that he had been paid £1.22million in damages by the trust after he won an employment tribunal two years earlier.
While at Walsgrave Hospital, he and other doctors at the trust raised concerns that five patients at a time were being put in bays meant for four.
After two patients died in these bays, he spoke out again – only to see Mr Loughton appearing on BBC TV in September 2001 denying the deaths were due to overcrowding.
As a result, he went public and spoke to BBC News about his concerns. In February 2002, he was suspended from his £70,000-a-year job and escorted off the premises, accused of intimidating a junior doctor. Dr Mattu was reinstated in 2010 before being dismissed again a year later.
In April 2014, a tribunal cleared him of wrongdoing and ruled he was unfairly dismissed and targeted by hospital managers because he blew the whistle.
This evening, he said: ‘I’m not employed and I’m still trying to salvage my career and rebuild my life. David Loughton is still in his job. Nothing has changed.’
Sandra Haynes Kirkbright has faced ruin since being suspended in 2012 by the trust to which Mr Loughton had moved.
The hospital administrator, 52, blew the whistle after she was hired by Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust to oversee record keeping at the trust.
She said that when she arrived, others at the trust were ‘breaking every rule in the book’ and deaths had been recorded in a way that made it look like fewer people were dying needlessly.
Mrs Haynes-Kirkbright also said the trust had fraudulently made money by charging for treatments it had not performed – all of which is denied by the trust. She was later suspended on allegations of bullying, which she says are untrue.
Mrs Haynes Kirkbright spoke out about her concerns in the Daily Mail two years ago.
This evening, she said: ‘I’m still suspended four and a half years later but I want to go back to work. I’ve been in limbo.’