I am in my mid-fifties and live in Ealing and until recently lived with my beautiful Canaan Dog, Pie, who used to smile and was very talented.
Unfortunately, Pie passed away in June last year and she is dreadfully missed. She was an amazing support to me, and helped me keep together during a very stressful period of my life with her unconditional love. She taught me the value of patience, acceptance and moving forward. I would be in a completely different place had it not been for Pie. We underestimate animals but in reality they are wiser than they are given credit for.
I live in a small end of terrace house with really wonderful neighbours. I have a son named Alister.
I trained in radiography at Hammersmith Hospital where I was offered my first job on completion, in 1983. After 2 years, I was promoted to a senior II radiographer at King’s College hospital. Following this I was again promoted at The Middlesex Hospital, now part of UCLH. I was then internally promoted as a Superintendent radiographer in charge of Uroradiology. I then in 2003, moved to Ealing Hospital as a Deputy Imaging Manager, so that I could be nearer to home and to be closer to Alister. In 2009, I was promoted to Imaging Services Manager and a budget holder for the department. I was in charge of 60 staff in the department. Whilst in post, in 2009, I discovered irregularities with attendances of 2 consultants, Miranda Harvie and Peter Schnatterbeck on a regular basis claiming overtimes not worked, consultants being paid for sessions whilst they were moonlighting, a consultant being paid for 6.5 days per week, whilst in department for half that time. Radiology department was always overspent. As I was the budget holder, it would have been fraudulent of me to sign off wrong attendances and time sheets. I subsequently raised my concerns to line managers within the Trust. As problems persisted, this was escalated to top managers within the Trust which included John Coleman – Director of Operations, Paul Stanton – Director of HR, David Pratt – Director of Finance, William (Bill) Lynn – Medical Director, Julie Lowe – Chief Executive. Coleman, Pratt and Lowe have left Ealing Trust and work at other hospitals. Incidentally, Julie Lowe has continued to work at other sites with detrimental consequences
In addition, I discovered, that Mike McWha, the PACS/RIS manager had failed to upload approximately 100 patient’s data over 6 month period, so compromising their treatment and possible prognosis.
Mike McWha, on advice of Miranda Harvie made verbal false counter allegations against me. Despite their being no evidence against me I was escorted out of the building, suspended and dismissed. Luckily, I took all my documented evidences with me as I left the premises. Nothing happened to either the consultants or the PACS/RIS manager. Staff wrote in support of me which Trust ignored. I took my case to court at Interim Relief Hearing, with help of Edward Cooper and Julie Morris, where under special situations such as mine, where dismissal is due to whistleblowing, can be heard. I won with kind and expert help of Helen Mountfield, QC, and James Laddie, QC. Only a handful of cases have won this as it’s difficult to prove that a dismissal has been a direct result of whistleblowing and there is only 1 week to make application from being dismissed. Paul Stanton, representing Ealing Trust, refused to let me return to my post when asked by Judge Mahoney. I also subsequently won the appeal hearing against my dismissal. Trust again refused.
During filming of documentary on NHS whistle-blowers by BBC’s Inside Out programme, I met with other whistle-blowers, such as Dr David Drew and Ramon Niekrash, which was of great support to me.
I had applied for numerous permanent jobs but without success. One Trust offered me a post, only to withdraw within 2 weeks later, when they discovered I was a whistle-blower.
I had written to Andrew Lansley, George Osborne, Ruth Carnall and David Cameron. All replied they could not get involved. There was no help. Despite all stating they support whistle-blowers, there is in reality no help. Whistle-blowers are left alone to fend for themselves.
My friends, neighbours and my parents have been wonderful and supportive. My dog, Pie has been a constant companion, and has kept me going. Because of her I had to go out for walks every day. The value of unquestioned love has been priceless. She has kept me together. I do believe humans have lot to learn from animals. I also took up hobbies like card making and reading about gemmology – I always loved sparkly stones!!
My case dragged on and eventually settled out of court with 2 years pay in 2012. Out of which I paid legal fees of £77,500. My legal fees had escalated to £130,000 on a ‘no win, no fees’ basis, but thankfully I did not end up paying this sum. After paying legal costs from my 2 years pay there not much given to me in terms of settlement to live on, given that I faced career, income and pension losses. In addition, there has been no independent inquiry into my raised concerns and those involved held accountable. Ealing Trust has wasted substantial sums of tax payer’s money by turning a blind eye on possible fraud and on legal costs, which should have been spent on patients. In fact some of the people involved appeared to have received ‘a pat on the back’. William Lynn promoted to the Deputy Chief Executive, Akib Rafique made a Clinical Director and Mike McWha received ‘Top mentor ‘ award (page 3) by the Trust.
In 2013, ITV’s surveillance team caught on camera Miranda Harvie and Akkib Rafique, new Clinical Director, accepting direct payment for ultrasounds within Ealing Trust, which went to their own accounts. They were still not fulfilling their contractual hours. Following FOI from ITV to Julie Lowe, Chief Executive, asking whether she knew about these activities, Lowe took up post at North Middlesex Hospital within 3 months
In August 2013, I discovered I had breast cancer with metastasis in my lungs from routine breast screening. I have completed chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Some of the nodules in my lungs remain – worryingly. I am continuing to have treatment every 3 weeks. Many senior consultants believe my cancer is due to the stress I have been under due to whistleblowing. Thankfully, due to a wonderful dog walker and a friend, Walter Wyeth, I have not had to place Pie in a kennel and be separated. The trauma would have been too much too to bear. I can cope with dealing with cancer but not being separated from Pie.
I had nearly lost my home as without income I no longer had funds to pay as my home. I faced being homeless with cancer. With history of whistleblowing coupled with cancer, it had taken nearly 7 years to find permanent work.
Despite having one of the strongest whistleblowing cases in the country, where I have won Interim relief Hearing, whistleblowing has destroyed my NHS career, pension, health. My case has been extensively covered in the media. Despite this, there had been no positive help. Several letters have been written to Jeremy Hunt by myself, my MP, CQC and Stephen Dorrell. I had met with Ed Jones, Special Advisor to Jeremy Hunt as well as Jeremy Hunt himself. He has yet to investigate my reported fraud despite having an abundance of evidence.
Pingback: Meeting with Ed Jones, Special Advisor to Jeremy Hunt-Sharmila Chowdhury 16 April 2014 | sharmilachowdhury
heroic.in a system when doing the decent proper thing becomes heroic. shame on it all.none of your amazing work is in vain. and thank you !
I fully empathise with you and the situation, I experienced much the same kind of treatment at UNISON North West after blowing the whistle on a culture of bullying and harrassment I experienced working in the Cumbria Region.
After 6 months of going through the Easter channels of the Greivance processes, and UNISON management refusing to investigate, I resigned for health reasons.
Now self employed, working everyday to achieve my goal of walking through Arena Point in Manchester as a Labour Councillor to expose the bully boys and girls and hold management to account for hypocrisy and double standards.
Everyday brings me closer to justice, my faith in Jesus protected me and keeps me going.
while not exactly in the fullness of health myself i DO have a small floor in my lounge you can sleep on in Ireland for nothing, yet for everything, if you become homeless. The Irish health service is crap unfortunately but there you go. Im too scared to send an email addy (Im a whistle blower myself) but I will continue to read your blog and if matters deteriorate for you, will probably work up the courage to contact you in person. It may not be much but it may help to alleviate your homelessness fears.
Thank you so much. I have started work. So fingers crossed.
Wow. You are a hero.
You have won by going through the process.
You made a mark globally.
It’s the management ego that continues to shelter persons who choose not to work and are milking the systems.
My advise is practice mindfulness. You are out of that chaos that you had to go through.
I have see colleagues go through the same.
You have my huge respect and admiration Sharmila. You are a true hero. Also my great sympathy. All that to which you have been subjected…Terrible in the true sense of the word. You’ll always be in my thoughts.
Clive Bowden (patient victimised relentlessly by local NHS and beyond for three years and counting, Wolverhampton)
Much respect, you have integrity and I applaud what you have stood for. As the corruption in the system is further exposed in the years ahead you are on the right side of history