West Suffolk Hospital faces inquiry after ‘witch-hunt’ for whistleblower

The Times 18 January 2020

Staff at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds were asked to provide fingerprints in an attempt to find a whistleblowerStaff at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds were asked to provide fingerprints in an attempt to find a whistleblowerJOE GIDDENS/PA

The health secretary has promised an independent review into the treatment of whistleblowers at a hospital where bosses were accused of carrying out a “witch-hunt” against their own doctors.

Staff at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, next to Matt Hancock’s constituency, were asked to provide fingerprints and handwriting examples in an attempt to find who wrote an anonymous letter to a widower claiming that there had been failures that caused the death of his wife.

Mr Hancock said yesterday that he was a strong advocate of whistleblowers having their voices heard. “In these sorts of complex cases, an independent review, with maximum transparency, is the right way forward,” he said.

As the MP for Suffolk West, Mr Hancock has recused himself from the investigation, which will be overseen by Ed Argar, a junior health minister.

Sue Warby, 57, a mother of two, was admitted to the hospital when she collapsed at home in July 2018. Her cause of death was listed as multi-organ failure after complications.

Her family then received an anonymous letter in October 2018 highlighting errors in her surgery. An inquest began on Thursday and was adjourned yesterday for an independent expert witness to review her medical records and prepare a report.

Speaking at the inquest her widower, Jon Warby, said that he was “surprised about the lengths” the hospital went to to track down the whistleblower.

Mr Warby said that he was “knocked sideways” after an anonymous letter to him highlighted problems with her treatment. He said that staff “should feel able to speak out on any issues they identify in the workplace”.

The letter was posted to his home in Bury St Edmunds in October 2018, prompting the hospital and Suffolk police to begin an investigation.

Doctors were asked for handwriting samples and fingerprints in a move described as chilling by patient safety campaigners. The hospital said that an investigation into the care that Mrs Warby received was already under way.

The hospital has asked NHS England to investigate its handling of the case, described by unions as a witch-hunt. Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission are to report on the hospital and are expected to criticise the handling of the case.

Mr Warby, a retired police officer, said: “I was quite surprised the lengths they went to but that was also part of a criminal investigation. I can understand that aspect of it to a degree because the allegations involved in the letter could involve a criminal case.”

In a statement read to the inquest on Wednesday, Mr Warby said he was told at the hospital that his wife was incorrectly given glucose instead of saline.

“I asked what the effect of this could be and the consultant told me brain damage or death,” he said. He added that he was later told there was “no new irreversible brain damage”.

Nigel Parsley, Suffolk’s senior coroner, said yesterday the family acknowledged that her death was the “progression of a naturally occurring disease”. They wanted to know if “errors may have had a contributory effect”.

Lawyers for the family said that their “central concerns” would probably not be answered by the evidence heard so far in the case. The family had asked that an expert witness be appointed to review Mrs Warby’s medical records and compile a report, which Mr Parsley decided was “not unreasonable”. He said: “I will request that the witness does this as expediently as possible.”

An expert could provide an opinion on “what, if any” effect errors in Mrs Warby’s treatment had on her, he said.

Mr Warby said that he was notified rapidly of errors in his wife’s care under the hospital’s duty of candour obligations. He said, however, that “we were left wanting answers” after she died.

“I wanted to know what action would be taken to prevent similar incidents from happening again,” he said. “Questions remain about whether Sue could have survived if these errors had not been made. The one positive to come out of all this is the changes put in place to protect future patients.”

The West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said in a statement: “A serious data breach took place where confidential patient information was shared inappropriately. We opened an investigation into that data breach, as is our duty. We have apologised to our staff. We have no intention of pursuing fingerprint requests further.”


Original article 


Susan Warby death: Whistleblower letter to husband ‘revealed blunders’

BBC 17 Jan 2020

Susan Warby's husband Jon WarbyJon Warby’s wife Susan died at West Suffolk Hospital on 30 August 2018

A former police officer whose wife died five weeks after bowel surgery said he was “knocked sideways completely” when he received an anonymous letter highlighting blunders in her treatment.

Susan Warby, 57, died at the West Suffolk Hospital on 30 August, 2018.

During an inquest into her death, it was heard she had been given glucose instead of saline via an arterial line.

The hospital reportedly asked doctors for fingerprints and handwriting samples to identify the whistleblower.

In a statement, the Doctors’ Association described the attempt by the hospital to find the letter writer as a “witch hunt”.

West Suffolk Hospital
WEST SUFFOLK HOSPITAL   Mrs Warby died at the West Suffolk Hospital in August 2018


Jon Warby said he received the letter two months after his wife’s death.

He said he was “quite surprised” by the lengths the hospital reportedly went to to find its author.

The inquest in Ipswich heard both Suffolk Police and the hospital launched investigations into the letter at the request of the coroner.

The hospital said an investigation into the nature of Mrs Warby’s care was already under way by the time the letter was sent.

Suffolk’s senior coroner Nigel Parsley said Mrs Warby’s family acknowledged her death was the “progression of a naturally occurring disease” but wanted to know if “errors may have had a contributory effect”.

‘Deep-seated toxic culture’

It was heard Mrs Warby also suffered a punctured lung during an operation to replace the arterial line.

Her cause of death was recorded as multi-organ failure, with contributory causes including septicaemia, pneumonia and perforated diverticular disease, affecting the bowel.

The inquest into mother-of-two’s death was adjourned so an independent medical witness can be brought in at the family’s request.

The Doctors’ Association said it was approached by medics who said the hospital had demanded both fingerprints and samples of handwriting.

It said clinicians claimed they were told if they refused that would be evidence of guilt.

“The witch hunt for a whistleblower following the tragic death of Mrs Warby highlights a deep-seated toxic culture at West Suffolk Hospital,” it said.

The hospital said it would not comment until after the inquest had concluded.


DR WHODUNNIT Hospital demand doctors’ fingerprints and handwriting in ‘witch hunt’ to find whistleblower over patient’s death

The Sun   

HOSPITAL bosses made doctors provide fingerprints and handwriting samples to track down a whistleblower.

The move came after an anonymous letter was sent to a man about failures in the care of his late wife.

 West Suffolk Hospital bosses made doctors provide fingerprints and handwriting samples as they searched for a whistleblower

West Suffolk Hospital bosses made doctors provide fingerprints and handwriting samples as they searched for a whistleblowerCredit: PA:Press Association

It said Susan Warby, 57, died five weeks after mistakes in bowel surgery at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

The hospital is alleged to have spent £968 on a hand-writing expert and more than £15,000 on a fingerprint expert.

Medics were reportedly told if they did not comply they would be assumed to be the culprit.

Both the hospital and police launched investigations into the source of the letter at the request of the coroner. An official from the union Unison described the investigation as a “witch hunt”.

Chief executive of charity Action against Medical Accidents told the Times: “Even if this was motivated by internecine struggles between staff groups, there is no excuse for this reaction.

“The way that they started asking for fingerprints from staff was abominable and  contrary to the kind of culture we want to see.”

Doctors said Health Secretary Matt Hancock “rebuffed” their concerns over their treatment.

But sources close to Mr  Hancock said he had raised the issue with the trust and the Care Quality Commission.

The hospital said a probe into Mrs Warby’s care was already under way when the letter was sent in October 2018.

 Susan Warby's husband Jon outside Suffolk Coroners' Court in Ipswich

Susan Warby’s husband Jon outside Suffolk Coroners’ Court in IpswichCredit: PA:Press Association

Letter to TDA

From: sharmila.chowdhury@hotmail.co.uk
To: kathymclean@nhs.net
CC: huntj@parliament.uk; edward.jones@dh.gsi.gov.uk; rupahuq@mail.com; rupahuq@ealinglabour.com
Subject: Request for urgent help
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 2015 09:45:41 +0000

Sent Via email

28 June 2015

Kathy McLean,

Medical Director

Trust Development Authority

Dear Kathy,

Re: update on my employment at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

I hope you are well.

Further to my recent request to meet with you urgently, I write because I have concerns about my employment situation.

Briefly, to recap, I am a NHS whistleblower who was dismissed unfairly based on false allegations. I won an Interim relief hearing and internal appeal hearing. However, I had been left without employment due to blacklisting. I also have breast and lung cancer, which numerous consultants have suggested is a direct result of stress from whistleblowing. I am on 3 weekly maintenance treatments, and I have not been given the ‘all clear’.

My case was referred to you from Jeremy Hunt’s office by Ed Jones, his special adviser. After your referral to Dr Chris Harrison, Medical Director, regarding finding me a suitable job and after subsequent numerous follow up emails by myself and Roger Kline, Imperial College found me a position as a business manager for undergraduate medical education.

I accepted the post on a 12 month basis, at St. Marys, with the understanding that I could apply for it after this period. I started in November 2014. This was at a lower grade and much reduced pay compared to my former role in Radiography, where I had been a manager of an imaging department. Nevertheless, it was essential for me to resume work, or else lose my home.

Things have proven stressful in this post for various reasons. The relevant team were re-structured just before I started. Some staff were demoted and some left. There were subsequent sicknesses related to increased workloads, and also due to junior staff being asked to cover the duties of more senior staff.

The consequences for me personally were that 2 weeks into the post, I was covering the work of three people. I was also left to my own devices to learn three different sets of duties, covering three sites. I had to work extended hours and at weekends to ensure tasks were completed.

The relevant line manager would not initially agree to locum support, and also added substantially to my above duties. Some locum support was eventually agreed, after various consultants voiced concerns about the staffing issues and their consequences. Their concerns included the fact that there was insufficient governance and tracking of funds.

After locum support was added and some additional posts were filled, things were more orderly for a while, and the medical students were happier. However, in February I was relocated to a base in Hammersmith, without any notice. This was because I was asked to performance manage a worker who had returned from sick leave, and was based at Hammersmith.

Two of my line managers then left. In May, the new line manager called me and other workers to a meeting at which we were told of another re-structure, which was to take effect immediately. Obviously, there was concern about lack of any consultation.

There were very significant changes to my role, with insufficient support and lack of facilities such as an office or an access to a computer. I had to travel between sites across London, carrying computer equipment and heavy documents. I did this for a month. This has caused additional medical problems for me, and my specialist advised that I should not be carrying weights. An office was eventually found for me, but it was my perception that this was done grudgingly.

Since then, a number of troubling things have happened. This includes the manager informing me that my post may be at risk, in response to me asking for support staff to make my post more doable. In addition to this, a peer who would be a likely candidate in any competitive restructuring situation made frequent and upsetting comments about my health, despite the fact that I have not taken a day off sick. These include suggestions that I should give up work (because of my health).

I was called to a series of meetings, including an appraisal meeting that I found hostile. Nevertheless, I was told I had done excellent work and new objectives were agreed. Next day, to my surprise I was told that I did not have sufficient background in Education, even though my manager has none either. I was also told that a decision had already been made to restructure (for the third time) and transfer me to project work, which made the appraisal process from the day before redundant. I was later told that my contract would not be renewed at all at the end of the 12 month period. These seemed to me to be arbitrary and unfair processes.

Distressingly, the manager has since repeatedly sent me texts to point out temporary employment opportunities elsewhere, which are unsuitable. I feel as if I am being pressured to leave as soon as possible. I have also now been moved to an office remote from other staff and have been alienated. I am no longer invited to any team meetings.

It is my perception that the Trust was not happy to employ me in the first place. The previous manager intimated that I was fortunate to get a job in spite of my whistleblowing background, and that I should just get on with things. I am worried that I have been set up to fail, and also that my requests for a reasonable work environment have been unfairly held against me.

Also, I believe that my objections to some irregularities in a recruiting process (a particular internal candidate was sent interview questions in advance) of which I have documentation, and also my concerns about being allocated an inappropriate number and range of tasks have been held against me.

A peer who raised similar concerns as me, including about the recruitment irregularities, has also suffered and is facing unemployment.

I asked to meet with the Medical Director, but this has not been agreed.

On top of these troubles, my father also recently died in traumatic circumstances. These included not being given vital medication including insulin in excess of 10 days, and not being fed, hydrated or appropriately cared for at Ealing Hospital.

I feel very distressed that I am again facing unemployment and likely financial ruin. Also, I am to some extent re-living my previous ordeal of being mistreated, after my original whistleblowing.

I worked effectively and peacefully for 30 years in the NHS until forced to whistleblow. I believe I have a lot to offer, given a supportive working environment. I am fit to work, but overwork and unduly stressful working conditions are bad for my health. In my particular circumstances, this is a serious issue.

I once more seek the TDA’s help in locating further employment. I ask for full support in finding conducive employment. I really need some peace after everything I have been through.

In addition to my core skills in managing imaging services, I would also be interested to work in the area of whistleblowing. I did write to Board members at The Imperial expressing an interest, but did not receive a reply.

I attach my CV for information, and to show you how hard I worked to build up my career. Also, my CV shows how much investment the NHS made in training and developing me.

I really hope that help is available. My circumstances remain pretty intolerable, and stem fundamentally from the fact that I did my duty and spoke up about wrongdoing.

I can provide further details of all of the above if you wish.

Yours sincerely,

Sharmila Chowdhury


Three NHS workers who died while working for ‘toxic’ East of England ambulance trust are named

Cambridgeshire Live   25 NOV 2019    By Alan Selby & Richard Brown 

(Image: EEAST)

Three men who died suddenly while working for the East of England Ambulance Trust have been named – as the service was branded ‘toxic’.

The trio, who all died within the space of 11 days, have been named as ambulance dispatcher Luke Wright, 24, and paramedics Christopher Gill and Richard Grimes.

Shortly before their deaths, which occurred between November 11 and November 21, a whistleblower wrote to the NHS Trust’s boss complaining about psychological abuse, Mirror Online reports.

Former health minister and Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, who represented North Norfolk, is calling for an independent investigation into the deaths.

He said: “For three people working on the front line to lose their lives within such a short space of time is deeply shocking.

“It does raise a question as to whether there needs to be a thorough internal investigation.

“I am conscious that people have complained about a toxic culture in this trust. I’ve been appalled by some of the behaviours that I’ve seen in the organisation.”

Dad-of-one Luke was in Norwich while Chris was from Welwyn Garden City, Herts, and Richard in Luton, Beds.

Luke Wright   Luke Wright

Luke’s brother Daniel, who also works for the service, said: “We need to highlight that it is OK not to be OK. People need to talk to get help.”

The whistleblower’s letter, uncovered by the Ambulance News Desk site, claimed that bullying behaviour was undermining staff confidence.

It said: “If this situation continues the risk of suicide and increase risk to patients will result in reputational damage to the NHS and potential loss of life.”

Dr Tom Davis, medical director of the service, said: “We will not be ­commenting on the unfortunate and tragic loss of our colleagues recently as we need to be sympathetic.

“But we encourage staff to seek support when they need it and to speak up if they are suffering with mental health.”


Top doctor ‘sacked and blacklisted by NHS’ insists he’s done nothing wrong

Metro   Joe Roberts 30 Sep 2019 

Dr Anthony Adams 'sacked and blacklisted by NHS' Dr Anthony Adams was sacked after speaking out about bullying and discrimination (Picture: SWNS for Metro.co.uk)

A top doctor who spoke out against discrimination says he can’t get a job after being ‘blacklisted’ by the NHS.

Anthony Adams has been a consultant in emergency medicine for 20 years and a qualified doctor since 1988.

This makes him one of the most experienced doctors in his field at a time when NHS trusts across the country are struggling to find enough staff to treat patients.

Dr Adams had a clean record, but in 2012, he was sacked after raising concerns about bullying and discrimination at his hospital.

He said he was left with no choice but to start proceedings for an unfair dismissal, and the General Medical Council later found there was no case against him.

But he has since failed to land any permanent job, despite being on the specialist register and sole applicant in many of the roles.

He told Metro.co.uk: ‘Honestly, when I was dismissed, I was asking myself, “What did I do? What have I done?”

‘I really do not know.’

Dr Anthony Adams 'sacked and blacklisted by NHS' Dr Adams has been a consultant in emergency medicine for 20 years (Picture: SWNS for Metro.co.uk)

Dr Adams said it started when he raised complaints about behaviour that was beginning to affect his health.

He said: ‘I had to take time off sick and went to see the occupational health consultant to explain what had been happening.

‘Since that dismissal I have been totally unsuccessful.’ Dr Adams, from Peterborough, has had stints working as a locum consultant for months at a time, but he wanted to know why he was being repeatedly rejected.

He said: ‘I decided to do a data subject access request [DSAR] because I found that even trying to get locum agency posts, I was being “blacklisted”.

‘By that I mean my CV was being approved and forwarded on by the medical staffing department, and then it was blocked.

‘It was happening in quite a few hospitals.’

He added: ‘In all but one of my interviews I was the sole candidate for, and usually these departments find it extremely difficult to find recruits.

‘Nobody wants to go to work there, either because of geography or something else, and I just wasn’t “appointable” according to them.’

He said one of the ‘telling incidents’ was at a teaching hospital.

Dr Anthony Adams 'sacked and blacklisted by NHS' Dr Adams has struggled to find a permanent job despite being on the specialist register(Picture: SWNS for Metro.co.uk)

He said: ‘They really wanted to employ me.

There was a two-tier interviewing process.

One was a psychometric where you were taken in for a day and they put you through scenarios.

‘I was told I passed with colours, they absolutely loved me. ‘

And I had worked in that department before as a locum as well.

‘I was the only applicant, but on the day I was told my references again were “absolute rubbish”.’

Despite the setbacks, Dr Adams has kept his skills up to date with courses and training.

He said: ‘I’m also somebody who trains others.

Not only are patients losing out but so are nurses, doctors and paramedics.’

After another rejection, Dr Adams asked the British Medical Association to look into why he didn’t get a post at a hospital.

Dr Anthony Adams 'sacked and blacklisted by NHS' Dr Adams wants the ‘highly unethical practice’ of blacklisting doctors to stop (Picture: SWNS for Metro.co.uk)

In an email, a BMA adviser told Dr Adams that they had spoken with someone from the hospital trust’s HR department.

The adviser said: ‘She confirmed that you are on their ‘restricted’ list and will not be accepted for any locum shifts.

‘She did point out that usually a reason for this is set out on their system (e.g. lack of suitable qualifications etc.) but none was provided. ‘

She is aware that the decision has come from the consultants for historical reasons, as we already know.’

However, when asked whether Dr Adams had been ‘blacklisted’, a spokesperson for the trust denied any ‘restrictive list’ existed.

The spokesperson said: ‘It would be inappropriate for us to comment on an individual case due to confidentiality.

‘However, I can confirm that we do not have a restrictive list.’

Dr Adams has decided to take his case to an employment tribunal as he says it’s ‘obvious’ he’s being actively prevented from getting a consultant post ‘without justification’.

He said the strain on his family has been ‘absolutely dreadful’.

He said: ‘It has affected us all in ways I could not have imagined ‘It is a constant conversation.

There is no getting away from how badly I have been treated.

He added: ‘I have three children.

The eldest two are actually in the medical profession and one of the reasons why I want to do it is to change things for them.’

Dr Adams’ lawyer, Sheetul Sowdagur, from Bindmans LLP, slammed the ‘highly unethical practice’ of blacklisting doctors.

She said: ‘No one should be restricted or blacklisted and there should to be clear guidance in law in relation to this issue.

‘Additionally, there should at least exist a duty to inform the individual of any action taken, the reason why and the chance to challenge this.

‘In the absence of transparency discrimination, victimisation and unfairness will flourish. We will continue our fight against this highly unethical practice.’


Original article in Metro



NHS staff in £214million fraud: Crooked GPs and dentists are scamming health service out of fortune every year by claiming money for non-existent services and submitting invoices for DEAD patients

  • Cheating GP surgeries and dentists are fleecing NHS out of £214million a year
  • Report reveals they claim money for non-existent services and appointments
  • The scams come as the Health Service is losing £1.3billion to fraud a year 

Cheating GP surgeries and dentists are fleecing the NHS out of £214million a year, a shocking report has revealed.

They are claiming money for non-existent services and appointments – and submitting invoices for patients who have died.

The scams come as the Health Service is losing £1.3billion to fraud a year or £3.5million a day, according to estimates from the NHS watchdog.

This is equivalent to hiring 48,000 junior doctors or 52,000 nurses – or performing 108,000 hip replacements or 650,000 cataract procedures.

Cheating GP surgeries and dentists are fleecing the NHS out of £214million a year, a shocking report has revealed

Cheating GP surgeries and dentists are fleecing the NHS out of £214million a year, a shocking report has revealed


The NHS Counter Fraud Authority is particularly concerned about rackets at rogue GP practices and dentists.

It suspects they are are routinely claiming money for ‘ghost patients’ who are still on their books despite having died or moved away.

Latest figures suggest there were 3.6million more patients on GP surgery registers in 2018 than there were people living in England.

The scams are continuing despite repeated attempts by NHS officials to crack down on the problem by urging doctors to clean up their lists.

Other GP surgeries are suspected of claiming extra NHS cash for providing treatments which never happened, such as support to stop smoking or contraceptive services.

Meanwhile, some dentists have been forcing patients to come back for multiple procedures to earn extra cash which could have all taken place in one session.

Others are invoicing the NHS for more complex treatments than those actually carried out.

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority insists that these ruses are by no means widespread and the majority of doctors and dentists are honest and conscientious.

The scams come as the Health Service is losing £1.3billion to fraud a year or £3.5million a day, according to estimates from the NHS watchdog

The scams come as the Health Service is losing £1.3billion to fraud a year or £3.5million a day, according to estimates from the NHS watchdog


But chief executive Sue Frith said: ‘Fraud against the NHS is insidious and a despicable crime. We will never stop pursuing those who see the NHS budget as a pot of money to line their own pockets.’

Figures compiled by the watchdog, published in an NHS England planning document, show that dental fraud is costing the NHS approximately £126million while GP surgery scams run up an £88million bill.

The document states that GP and dental surgeries are provided by ‘independent contractors’ and ‘high trust environments that present considerable scope for manipulation and sharp practice’.

Senior GPs or partners earn around £105,000 a year while dentists receive between £75,000 and £100,000.

John O’Connell, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘This is an absolutely scandalous waste of taxpayers’ cash. These fraudsters should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.’

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘GPs and their teams will be shocked and hurt to hear that insinuations they are complicit in somehow defrauding our National Health Service are still being propagated.’

She stressed: ‘Records can never be perfect as our patients’ circumstances change all the time. It is certainly not a case of surgeries deliberately and systematically profiting by keeping patients on their lists when they shouldn’t be there.’

Dave Cottam, of the British Dental Association, said: ‘Anything that takes resources away from patients should be condemned.

‘Sadly confusion is practically written into our contracts. There is no clarity over what the NHS offers and no two dentists would give you the same answer on how treatments are claimed.’

The document also reveals £256million a year is lost to patient fraud, £375million to buying and commissioning scams and further huge amounts to payroll and pharmacy cons.

Other GP surgeries are suspected of claiming extra NHS cash for providing treatments which never happened, such as support to stop smoking or contraceptive services.

Meanwhile, some dentists have been forcing patients to come back for multiple procedures to earn extra cash which could have all taken place in one session.

Others are invoicing the NHS for more complex treatments than those actually carried out.

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority insists that these ruses are by no means widespread and the majority of doctors and dentists are honest and conscientious.

The scams come as the Health Service is losing £1.3billion to fraud a year or £3.5million a day, according to estimates from the NHS watchdog

The scams come as the Health Service is losing £1.3billion to fraud a year or £3.5million a day, according to estimates from the NHS watchdog

But chief executive Sue Frith said: ‘Fraud against the NHS is insidious and a despicable crime. We will never stop pursuing those who see the NHS budget as a pot of money to line their own pockets.’

Figures compiled by the watchdog, published in an NHS England planning document, show that dental fraud is costing the NHS approximately £126million while GP surgery scams run up an £88million bill.

The document states that GP and dental surgeries are provided by ‘independent contractors’ and ‘high trust environments that present considerable scope for manipulation and sharp practice’.

Senior GPs or partners earn around £105,000 a year while dentists receive between £75,000 and £100,000.

John O’Connell, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘This is an absolutely scandalous waste of taxpayers’ cash. These fraudsters should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.’

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘GPs and their teams will be shocked and hurt to hear that insinuations they are complicit in somehow defrauding our National Health Service are still being propagated.’

She stressed: ‘Records can never be perfect as our patients’ circumstances change all the time. It is certainly not a case of surgeries deliberately and systematically profiting by keeping patients on their lists when they shouldn’t be there.’

Dave Cottam, of the British Dental Association, said: ‘Anything that takes resources away from patients should be condemned.

‘Sadly confusion is practically written into our contracts. There is no clarity over what the NHS offers and no two dentists would give you the same answer on how treatments are claimed.’

The document also reveals £256million a year is lost to patient fraud, £375million to buying and commissioning scams and further huge amounts to payroll and pharmacy cons.

View original article

‘Greedy’ radiologist, 47, ‘worked lucrative private shifts’ while collecting her NHS salary in a £70,000 fraud’ court hears

  • Paediatric Dr Maria Klusmann says she was on leave while working elsewhere 
  • She worked at five private hospitals over a two-year period while still at UCLH 
  • Dr Klusmann, of north London, is accused of defrauding taxpayer of up to £70k

A ‘greedy’ consultant is in court accused of fraud for working at five private hospitals while still collecting her six-figure NHS salary.

Paediatric radiologist Dr Maria Klusmann, 47, claims she worked at private clinics across the capital while she was on approved leave from University College London Hospital (UCLH).

But prosecutors claim she acted out of ‘money and greed’ and unlawfully defrauded taxpayers by as much as £70,000 by working privately while she should have been at UCLH and collecting a total salary of £130,000.

Paediatric radiologist Dr Maria Klusmann (pictured) is charged with one count of fraud by abuse of position over a two-year period between April 2014 and April 2016



Paediatric radiologist Dr Maria Klusmann (pictured) is charged with one count of fraud by abuse of position over a two-year period between April 2014 and April 2016





She is charged with one count of fraud by abuse of position over a two-year period between April 2014 and April 2016.

Prosecuting, Leila Gaskin told Blackfriars Crown Court: ‘This is a case about money and greed.

‘The prosecution say the defendant was paid by the NHS, but instead she chose to work elsewhere at exclusive private clinics.’

Dr Klusmann received a total of around £130,000 from the NHS and her private work, with between £60,000 and £70,000 fraudulently taken from the Health Service, the jury heard.

She diagnosed sick children by using CT scans, MRIs, S-rays, ultrasound scans and taking biopsies during the two-year period the offence is alleged to have taken place.

Dr Klusmann has pleaded not guilty and denies any dishonesty, insisting much of her private work was during periods of leave from UCLH with the remainder of time paid back to the NHS.

The court heard Dr Klusmann also worked at Highgate Private Hospital; The Wellington Hospital and Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth in St John’s Wood; Aspen Healthcare and HCA Healthcare.

‘Senior doctors were able to see the defendant was not working at the times and places she was contracted to on numerous occasions,’ explained Ms Gaskin.

‘She admitted no wrongdoing and did not alter her conduct and an internal investigation revealed extensive gaps when she was working for other private clinics when she should have been working for the NHS.

Prosecutors claim Klusmann acted out of 'money and greed' and unlawfully defrauded taxpayers by as much as £70,000 by working privately while she should have been at UCLH

Prosecutors claim Klusmann acted out of ‘money and greed’ and unlawfully defrauded taxpayers by as much as £70,000 by working privately while she should have been at UCLH

Prosecuting, Leila Gaskin told Blackfriars Crown Court (pictured): 'This is a case about money and greed.'

Prosecuting, Leila Gaskin told Blackfriars Crown Court (pictured): ‘This is a case about money and greed.’

‘The prosecution case is over two years she did not work for hundreds of hours for the NHS and during that time was working in the private sector, earning additional sums and was doing this dishonestly and deliberately covering it up.

‘She was effectively being paid by both the private clinics and the NHS at the same time.

‘The defendant was being dishonest, working at private clinics on days she should have been working for the NHS. She was deceiving the NHS, she was acting fraudulently.’

The court heard Dr Klusmann, of Highgate, north London, reacted negatively when confronted by UCLH.

‘She became agitated and evasive and did not answer questions she was asked and there was an attempt on her part to manipulate the data.

‘She says if there is a deficit there is a fault in the computer software of the hospital, which was prone to crash,’ Ms Gaskin added.

The trial continues.

Morecambe Bay NHS Trust: Hospital to meet whistleblower

BBC News 5 September 2019

Peter DuffyPeter Duffy, whose book ‘outlined appalling treatment of patients’


A hospital chief executive has asked to meet a whistleblower who raised concerns about the “appalling treatment of patients”.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) has also asked NHS England for help setting up an inquiry into the claims.

It comes after four local MPs wrote to the Health Secretary demanding an independent investigation.

The trust has said it “would not stand in the way of any further scrutiny”.

UHMBT chief executive Aaron Cummins has written to Peter Duffy, a former consultant urologist at the trust’s Royal Lancaster Infirmary, requesting a meeting.

Mr Duffy, who recently published a book detailing allegations of poor medical care by some staff at the trust’s urology department, said he had since spoken to other staff and patients who also had concerns.

“I’m in no doubt that there are ongoing issues,” he said.

“I’m quite prepared to meet with them. I think the sooner it happens the better for patient care and quality of care.”

‘Appalling treatment’

In August, the MPs John Woodcock, Cat Smith, Trudy Harrison and Tim Farron sent a joint letter to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, saying Mr Duffy had “outlined appalling treatment of patients and severe shortcomings in governance,” at the trust.

“Coroners have ruled mistakes were a factor in the death of two patients,” the letter said, asking for a formal investigation into the trust’s urology department.

The trust responded in a letter saying a number of reviews had already been conducted but “we would not stand in the way of any further scrutiny of our services”.

The letter said the trust was “assured that the concerns raised have been investigated”.

Cat SmithImage copyrightLABOUR PARTY
Image captionCat Smith MP said she welcomed the trust’s response to her call for an inquiry

Ms Smith said she welcomed the trust’s response “because there continues to be concerns in the local community about the safety and quality of service.”

The trust said they hope to meet Mr Duffy to ask for more details of some cases.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We have received the letter regarding University Hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and will respond in due course.”

Grieving families call for FGH consultants to be struck off

The NWEMail  5 August 2019

THE families of two patients who died after being failed by FGH consultant urologists have spoken of their fury at finding out they were allowed to repeat their mistakes.

Following a lengthy investigation by The Mail the families of Irene Erhart from Walney and Peter Read from near Morecambe have also now been made aware that the under-fire department continues to employ two consultants who made ‘catastrophic’ errors.

A third consultant chose to resign from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust last September.

he hospital trust has now apologised to both families.


The Mail’s investigation led to Mrs Erhart’s husband Garth finding out this week that four years after his wife Irene died the same consultant made similar mistakes which a coroner said contributed to the death of another patient.

Mrs Erhart, a former comptometrist at Barrow steelworks, was 79 when she died on February 7, 2011.

She had been admitted to FGH on December 3 in 2010 with a systemic infection which had originated in her urinary tract. She was already awaiting a date for surgery to remove a kidney stone and had a history of urinary infections.

During the following four weeks her husband said two consultants; Ashutosh Jain and Kavinder Madhra, treated her solely with antibiotics and took no further action despite her deterioration.

“They never came and spoke to me, or my son, to explain what they were doing; because they did nothing for my beautiful wife, it was obvious she was dying,” Mr Erhart, 89, said.

Mrs Erhart continued to worsen and, by the end of January, ward staff were so worried about the consultants’ failure to act that a senior sister called consultant urologist Peter Duffy who was then based at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Mr Duffy, who was constructively dismissed from UHMBT in 2016 after claiming his whistleblowing about his colleagues had been ignored, said the sister told him: “The two clinicians in charge of her care were doing nothing and all the ward staff were frightened she was going to die.”

The Mail has also spoken to the sister who took the unorthodox step of calling Mr Duffy.

“On a number of occasions I called Peter and asked him to come over because I thought Mr Jain and Mr Madhra were failing patients,” she said.

Mr Duffy, who now works on the Isle of Man, travelled to FGH on a day off and arrived to find ‘a very, very sick and septic lady who was clearly dying’.

He said: “The ideal time to operate had already come and long gone.”

Mr Duffy then advised Mrs Erhart’s family that operating was very risky given her condition but without surgery she would die.

Mr Duffy rushed Mrs Erhart to theatre but ‘it was much too late and she died a few days later’.



Following an inquest in October 2011 deputy coroner Philip Sharp recorded a conclusion which stated: “The cause of death was contributed to by the failure to provide a stent to drain Mrs Erhart’s infection earlier in her treatment.”

The deputy coroner concluded that ‘Mrs Erhart should have been considered suitable for a stent much earlier in her admission which would have given her much better prospects’.

“By the time (Mr Duffy) looked at the situation the operation was necessary and it perhaps had been necessary for some time,” he added.

The deputy coroner praised Mr Duffy for his attempts, ‘to the best of his ability’, to save Mrs Erhart’s life by carrying out an operation which ‘had not been considered by those previously treating her’.

Speaking from his home in Strathmore Avenue on Walney, Mr Erhart, a retired shipyard fitter who also served in the Merchant Navy, said the hospital trust should have sacked both consultants at the time.

“The pain, the anger, it’s never faded. You just learn to live with it,” he said.

“Both of those doctors should have been struck off. It’s scandalous that one is still there and the other was allowed to continue working there for seven years ‘til he left.”


In 2015, four years after Mrs Erhart died, Peter Read died after developing urosepsis, caused by ‘missed opportunities to change his ureteric stent’, a coroner later ruled.

Mr Read was treated by Ashutosh Jain, the same consultant who, in 2011, was involved in the care of Mrs Erhart.

A coroner said the failings of Mr Jain and fellow urological consultant Saleem Naseem in not putting in a kidney stent contributed to Mr Read’s death. Both still work at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.


The Mail has now obtained a copy of a Root Cause Analysis investigation carried out by the hospital trust after Mr Read’s death on the request of the coroner. The trust was asked to produce the report by the coroner to explain why ‘despite microbiological advice the overdue and almost certainly blocked stent was not changed’ sooner.

Mr Read was admitted to Royal Lancaster Infirmary in December 2015 after a series of admissions for vomiting and stomach pain.

His condition deteriorated over a number of weeks but neither Mr Jain or Mr Naseem changed the stent when he became acutely unwell with sepsis.

The trust admitted, in the RCA, that there had been ‘two missed opportunities to change the stent’.

Peter Duffy was made aware of the situation on December 30 and replaced the stent during his lunch break as an emergency.

As with the case of Irene Erhart however, it was too late, and Mr Read died on January 2 after a CT scan revealed a brain stem death.

The RCA report highlighted missing medical records, ‘virtually illegible’ notes, a failure to review antibiotic treatment, and an 11-day period when Mr Read did not receive any nutrition.

Failing to request routine blood tests, consultants’ signatures on Mr Read’s notes which could not be deciphered, and not escalating his care sooner were also identified as errors.


His daughters Karen Beamer and Nicola Read were horrified to discover this week, as a result of information obtained by The Mail, that Mr Jain had been involved in the care of Mrs Erhart and that a coroner ruled a lack of action contributed to her death.

“In 2011 a coroner ruled failings in the care of Irene contributed to her death and clearly, despite what the trust claim, lessons were not learned,” Mrs Beamer  said.

Mrs Beamer has praised Mr Duffy for trying to save her dad.

“Peter did everything he could,” she said.

“The trust has lost quite possibly the best urological consultant they have ever had. And Mr Jain and Mr Naseem are still employed and earning huge salaries paid for by the public.”


Kavinder Madhra started work for the trust in 2001 but the following year was sent off for 18 months to retrain at UHMBT’s expense after he was issued a warning by the General Medical Council because of clinical errors.

He returned but concerns continued to emerge with one of the most serious in 2014 almost resulting in a patient having the wrong kidney removed instead of a cancerous one.

Two months later five complaints were made about Mr Madhra by two patients and three doctors on the same day.

He was suspended and the trust asked the Royal College of Surgeons conduct an investigation. They concluded there were ‘very significant concerns’ and Mr Madhra was demoted but allowed to continue working at the trust while supervised.

Mr Madhra, 63, resigned from UHMBT in September 2018 nine days after the General Medical Council imposed conditions on his practice following numerous concerns about his abilities.

One of the most serious of his errors during his UHMBT career almost resulted in a patient having the wrong kidney being removed.

A hearing at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service to decide if Mr Madhra is fit to practice has started and has been adjourned until January 2020 because of availability of panel members.

Mr Jain and Mr Naseem, whose failings over a number of years have included other patients being left suffering from kidney failure and one 16-year-old boy who lost a testicle, continue to work at the trust.


The hospital trust has issued a lengthy statement apologising to the families of Mrs Erhart and Mr Read.

Medical director Dr David Walker (pictured) said: “We feel deeply sorry for Mr Erhart, and for the family of Mr Read and want to apologise to, and reassure them and your readers, that we take every case where a patient dies extremely seriously and that safety for our patients is our primary aim as a healthcare organisation.

“Because of that over-riding concern with safety, and in the light of a number of concerns raised about the Urology Department, including these cases from 2011 and 2015, we invited a review of the department by the Royal College of Surgeons in 2016.

“We have additionally carried out a huge amount of work to ensure the culture in the department continues to improve to ensure the best care for our patients and that our staff are well supported at work.

“In the autumn we will be undertaking a peer review of the department by expert clinicians from another trust to ensure that the actions arising out of the Royal College Review have been fully embedded and ensure there are no further actions required.

“In terms of the cases referred to, we have fully co-operated with the coroner in both cases at the time and ensured the coroner was satisfied we had taken all actions that we should.

“We appreciate that this is very traumatic for Mrs Erhart’s husband and Mr Read’s family and in Mr Read’s case have met with the family.

“We would also be pleased to meet with Mr Erhart and discuss any aspect of the case with him.

“We want to assure them that our investigations have been thorough, we have learned lessons and of course if Mr Duffy has any further information we’d be grateful to hear from him.”


In response to the trust’s statement Mrs Erhart’s son Lyndon said the apology was ‘too little and far too late’.

“Why has it taken the paper’s investigation, eight years on, for them to say sorry?” he asked.

“They knew when mum died that mistakes had been made but they never came to speak to us.”


NHS patients will be able to log anonymous complaints via smartphones under safety plans

The Telegraph 29 June 2019    By Laura Donnelly 

The initiative is part of an NHS safety strategyThe initiative is part of an NHS safety strategy

Patients will be able to anonymously log concerns about their NHS treatment, via a phone app, as part of efforts to boost safety.

The new strategy will see the creation of a centralised portal, allowing people to supply information about blunders they have experienced or witnessed.

Officials said that swift recording of such information would enable them to alert the rest of the NHS more quickly to risks of serious harm, and prevent tragedies being repeated.

The database – part of a strategy to be published next week – will also help experts to see trends and identify areas for improvement, they said.

The new digital service will create a single, portal to record problems with medical devices, errors in medicines administration, or difficulties in spotting a patient’s condition deteriorating.

Officials said patients and carers will be able to instantly log concerns about their care or treatment via their phones.

Caroline Dinenage, care minister, said: “This innovative new digital service for reporting and learning from incidents will provide a more holistic way of collecting and analysing vital data to help improve care right across the NHS.

“Our brilliant NHS staff have a vital role to play and this will empower them further, as well as giving every patient and their family a say on the safety of the care they receive. Patient safety is key to our Long Term Plan for the NHS and this approach will provide the NHS with new insight on how care and services can be improved, to make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world.”

Patients, staff and families will be able to submit data to the system, helping the NHS to identify new insights to produce fresh lines of patient safety exploration.

Details about individuals – including their names and date of birth – will not be identifiable.

Dr Aidan Fowler, national director for patient safety at NHS Improvement and NHS England said: “The NHS Long Term Plan sets out a package of care which will save thousands of lives, and our new strategy to enhance patient safety will mean people get care in the safest possible setting.

“The NHS is already a trailblazer on safety with the world’s first and largest reporting system, and to futureproof the NHS for the 21st century this new system is part of a decade-long vision for improving patient safety in the NHS, using the latest technology to make it easier for patients, their families and staff to report incidents, learn lessons and keep the NHS in England safe and effective for our patients.”

View original article

NHS reform after nurse set himself on fire

Amin Abdullah died after setting himself on fire outside Kensington PalaceAmin Abdullah died after setting himself on fire outside Kensington Palace

Health service bosses have been forced to overhaul disciplinary processes after a male nurse set himself on fire rather than face what campaigners called a “kangaroo court”.

The reforms have come after an independent inquiry found in August that Amin Abdullah was wrongly dismissed and unfairly treated by an NHS trust in London.

The inquiry was told that Mr Abdullah, 41, became so depressed at his treatment by the NHS that he set himself alight and burnt to death outside Kensington Palace.

The inquiry found that an unnamed investigating officer for Imperial College Healthcare repeatedly raised questions about the nurse’s honesty “on the basis of little or no evidence”. It has now been revealed that the head of the body that oversees standards and discipline in the NHS has told all trust leaders that processes must be reformed.

Baroness Dido Harding, the chairwoman of NHS Improvement, ordered trust bosses to consider the “likely impact on the health and wellbeing” of those in the disciplinary line of fire. She told trust chiefs to ensure that health professionals facing charges have “immediate and ongoing direct support”.

Lady Harding also stressed that NHS disciplinary panels must be independent and follow a series of best practice guidelines.

View original article in The Times


NDAs: MPs call for ban on ‘gagging clauses’ over ‘cover-up’ fears

BBC News  11 June 2019

Hannah MartinHannah Martin said she had been forced out of her job and made to sign a gagging clause after having a baby

MPs have called for a ban on “gagging clauses” used by employers to silence allegations of unlawful discrimination and harassment.

Maria Miller, chairwoman of the Women and Equalities committee, said non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) were having a “destructive effect on people’s lives”.

NDAs were designed to stop staff sharing secrets if they changed jobs.

But MPs say they are now used to “cover up unlawful and criminal behaviour”.

The Women and Equalities Committee says the government needs to clarify the rules on whistleblowing and tackle the financial barriers employees face when trying to take cases to employment tribunals.

It comes as dozens of academics told the BBC they were “harassed” out of their jobs and made to sign NDAs after raising complaints about discrimination, bullying and sexual misconduct.

More than 90 people wrote to the committee sharing their experiences.

Hannah Martin, a mother-of-two from West Sussex, told MPs she was forced to leave her job at an advertising agency after having a baby.

“They said if I did not sign an NDA within 24 hours I would not get a payout,” she told the BBC in a separate interview.

“NDAs are a bullying tactic that forces you into silence. I felt like I had no other choice but to sign. I felt like I was being abused.”

She said that by signing an NDA, she not only lost her job and income, but also her self-confidence. “All the power is with the person with the money,” she said.

Miller: “A long-term mission to get rid of NDAs altogether”

MPs call for ban on ‘gagging clauses’

Mrs Miller said it was “worrying” that gagging clauses were being traded by employers for job references.

“After signing an NDA, many individuals find it difficult to work in the same sector again,” she said.

“Some suffer emotional and psychological damage as a result of their experiences, which can affect their ability to work and move on.”

The committee said any use of confidentiality clauses needed to be clear and specific in scope and that employers should be made to investigate all allegations properly.

A senior manager should be appointed to oversee discrimination cases so that someone was held accountable, the committee said.

‘Abuse and silencing’

It also renewed calls for the three-month time limit for tribunal cases about sexual harassment and discrimination to be doubled, and added new laws should be introduced so that NDAs could not prevent people from sharing information which might support the claims of other victims.

Astrophysicist Dr Emma Chapman won a payout after being sexually harassed by a man at University College London but refused to sign an NDA in favour of a confidentiality waiver.

She said this was a positive first step towards “breaking the cycle of abuse and silencing in sexual misconduct” at universities in particular.

She told MPs she knew of two cases in London in the last five years where settlements totalling more than £100,000 in each institution were given to multiple victims of individual harassers.

But she said she was “concerned that even with the clearest terms alongside an NDA, the power imbalance between employer and employee will still serve to silence without explicit confidentiality waivers”.

UCL said it welcomed the committee’s findings, adding that it “no longer uses NDAs in settlement agreements with individuals who have complained of sexual misconduct, harassment or bullying as a matter of course”.

View original article and video

Lawyers must fix the problems with gagging orders before it is too late

The Times LAW   

The confusion must be cleared away and guidance established if these deals are to remain trusted and useful, writes Iain Miller

Gagging orders were back in the spotlight this week when the women and equalities committee reported on non-disclosure agreements. Once more the legal profession felt the heat as MPs criticised its approach so far and called for more action from regulators.

It is a peculiar feature of NDAs that responsibility for the issues raised is spread across a wide range of bodies.

The courts have not traditionally supervised what are essentially private contractual agreements. But various other interested groups are proving influential. No wonder lawyers are confused on where they stand on use of the agreements.

What is becoming increasingly apparent is a need for authoritative guidance and agreed standard form documents that can be relied on by those dealing with NDAs.

This was certainly the view at a recent meeting of employment law specialists, law firm risk managers and ethics experts.

Attendees agreed that clarity is required about the precise boundaries of acceptable terms in the drafting and negotiation of NDAs and that the recent warning notice from the Solicitors Regulation Authority did not do this sufficiently. Equally, some said that a practice note from the Law Society, the body that represents solicitors in England and Wales, was equivocal.

Others raised concerns about shifting public attitudes. Hence a default form of wording being developed for the front of every settlement agreement — akin to the way in which standard form court orders such as freezing injunctions are used — was thought to be a good way forward.

It could state in plain English what was not/could not be prevented by the agreement, such as reporting to the police, regulators, medical practitioners and others. It would give solicitors the confidence they are acting appropriately, but also clients the confidence their agreement is bona fide. There is a danger that NDAs are becoming unnecessarily feared and toxic by their very notoriety.

Some argued that the use of NDAS should be the subject of greater controls and oversight within law firms given they have become such a risk factor. Suggestions included that NDAs might require approval at a higher level or that clients could only be allowed to enter into NDAs in employment cases with board approval.

Another idea discussed was whether a higher form of regulation should apply in relation to the use of NDAs in an employment context. NDAs could be signed off by a lawyer, specifically qualified and authorised to advise on such matters.

There has been a stream of events over the past 18 months that has drawn focus back to the legal profession on how it deals with NDAs. There is every reason to expect this to continue until the various issues surrounding NDAs are resolved.

As a profession, lawyers need to grapple with these or we risk government regulation or a total ban on NDAs, which would be a pity given that their use is not intended to be pernicious but often in the best interests of both signing parties.

Iain Miller is a partner specialising in legal services regulation at Kingsley Napley, a London law firm


View original article

Whistleblower ambulance trust manager considered suicide after being bullied and humiliated


Jonathan Penny worked for the ambulance trust for 17 yearsJonathan Penny worked for the ambulance trust for 17 years(Image: Jonathan Penny)

A whistleblower who spoke out about a bullying culture by senior ambulance trust managers is claiming he was wrongly dismissed over allegations of gross misconduct, causing him to contemplate taking his own life.

Jonathan Penny, who worked at South Western Ambulance Foundation Trust (SWASFT) for 17 years, told an employment tribunal in Exeter how his mental health was also affected by his colleague and best friend ending their life while his disciplinary proceedings were ongoing.

The court heard how Mr Penny was an air ambulance paramedic and then for the hazardous area response team (HART) as a team leader, training manager and national interagency liaison officer.

Mr Penny told in a statement how his service with the trust had been ‘exemplary’ until a National Ambulance Resilience Unit (NARU) report in June 2017 into the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) identified concerns about management and leadership, and highlighted a culture of bullying and sexual harassment among numerous management team employees.

Bullying and harassment in ambulance service, claims employee

An independent investigation was commissioned by the trust looking into the practices of the HART team which led to disciplinary processes for three employees, including Mr Penny.

A formal investigation into alleged bullying, sexual harassment, violence and aggression by Mr Penny was recommended. Due to seriousness of the allegations, a disciplinary investigation was deemed necessary by the trust.

Mr Penny alleged in his statement: “A senior officer of the trust, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, was present at the disclosure of the (NARU) report which was witnessed by the board of executives via video link.

“He said that chief executive Ken Wenman was ‘fuming’ and shortly after held a meeting stating that, ‘I want them gone. Get rid of them’, with reference to who he believed was responsible for disclosing this dysfunctional management.”

Two ambulance stations in Devon are being relocated

Two months later, Mr Penny says he was informed he was to be removed from his post and demoted with immediate effect. He was sent to work at Exeter ambulance station and says he was not given any reason for the decision.

When no explanation had still been given nine days later, he said he formally requested one.

“I would have expected to receive notification of allegations against me within seven days as per trust disciplinary policy,” he said. “My mental health began to seriously decline and I also informed the trust I would be reporting sick due to unmanageable levels of work related stress.”

Mr Penny says his stress was further compounded when he was told the following month his former role as a training manager was being covered by an employee who had just moved in with his wife.

Mr Penny told how he wrote to the trust perceiving it to be a conflict of interest, and says he was told it was ‘unfortunate’.

In September 2017, Mr Penny says he told the trust he was now suffering from severe mental health illness and had nearly taken his own life.

He said: “The trust still attempted to put additional pressure on me to attend a disciplinary hearing despite the severity of my condition, which became dangerously unstable when I learnt that my best friend, an operations manager in the trust, had committed suicide by hanging himself a week before my hearing was due.

“Despite this, the trust still insisted I attend a three-day hearing after the funeral of my best man. The trust also removed the wellbeing officer who had been assigned to support me through my illness.”

Mr Penny claims it wasn’t until October 2017 – two months after he was removed from post – that he was informed of the allegations being made against him which were three accounts of gross misconduct following the trust’s cultural review.

The first was he had displayed a pattern of inappropriate behaviour towards colleagues. The second was he had been complicit in the deployment of safe working at height practices within HART Exeter that fell outside of national specifications and did not have necessary governance in place, resulting in HART operatives being put at risk.

he final allegation was in his role as course director, he led HART operatives into unsafe water during a training course in Llangollen. All three were denied by Mr Penny.

He said: “I expressed my concerns that I had been removed from post prior to the report being compiled, and that I did not think the report was fair or unbiased as all staff had been made aware that three senior managers had been removed from post due to allegations of bullying and sexual harassment prior to the report being compiled.”

He added: “The allegations were the findings of the cultural review and the fact I had used the interoperability panel as a platform to report what I believed was bullying and harassment.”

At the disciplinary hearing, where it was decided to terminate his employment, Mr Penny claims the trust refused to allow him to bring any witnesses, which the trust disputes.

During the appeal process he was told the disciplinary officer had not received his initial evidence package due to a ‘clerical error’.

Mr Penny said: “The investigation on which the hearing relied was neither reasonable or fair as the investigating officer made no attempt to undertake an impartial investigation, and failed to take into account all relevant witnesses and evidence freely available to him.”

Regarding some of the allegations made against him, Mr Penny claims he was never named as the responsible officer for safe working at height practices, and no complaints or safety issues were raised at any point.

He said: “Staff and patient safety were paramount in every action I took and every training event I organised, every live deployment I was involved in and without ever receiving a single complaint about my conduct.

“I believed SWASFT failed to comply to their own policies and failed to follow the  Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) employment guidance as this was an intentional, single-minded and unreasonable act to ‘get rid of me’.

“As a result of SWASFT’s actions I have suffered with mental health issues, financial issues, depression, anxiety, exacerbation of PTSD symptoms, and for many months I was unable to work due to issues directly relating to the way I treated, humiliated and bullied by SWASFT.

“I believe the only reason I have been singled out and treated unfairly and differently to others that were investigated is partly direct discrimination because of my mental health issues and as a direct result of my whistle-blowing of the bullying culture by senior managers in SWASFT.”

He added: “Bringing this case before the court has been hardest thing I have ever done as it has taken an enormous amount of effort to do so. However, I have felt compelled to do so as I just cannot move on with my life or come to terms with the horrendous and unfair way in which the trust I gave so much to, for so many years, has treated me.

“I also feel a duty of responsibility to speak out for excellent staff of SWASFT who still suffer in silence, and I feel I owe it to my friend and others before him who have been overwhelmed and taken their own lies as a consequence of the proven and documented toxic culture.”

Among statements in support of Mr Penny, HART operations officer Ben McGachy said: “I have experienced similar persecution in HART after I raised concerns about the culture and experiences of bullying and harassment that my staff and I suffered in the unit.”

Evidence was heard from the trust who refute Mr Penny’s allegations and believe their investigation of him was fair, impartial and reasonable.

Amy Beet, executive director of people and culture told how following the independent report into HART, she concluded it was necessary to investigate the issues raised, and Mr Penny was temporarily deployed pending investigation.

Ms Beet said: “Having reviewed the investigation report I concluded there was sufficient evidence to warrant a disciplinary evidence.”

She told in a statement how it was rescheduled twice to suit Mr Penny, the latter being on compassionate grounds, and he was invited to bring witnesses and provide statements, but the large number he was proposing – 29 to give evidence and a further 19 to attend for questioning – was ‘not practicable’.  The hearing was held in Mr Penny’s absence, having been told he would not attend.

It was conceded at an appeal hearing Mr Penny’s mitigation documents were not passed on to the hearing in January 2018 and was due to an ‘administration error’ within the HR department, but they were considered by the appeal panel in April 2018.

Ms Beet said: “I deny that the decision to allow Mr Penny to call witnesses to attend the hearing or postpone the hearing was unfair. There were cogent reasons including practicability, the large number of witnesses and lack of clarity as to relevance.

“To allow all of the witnesses to attend the hearing was not proportionate, feasible or necessary. Although this decision was communicated to Mr Penny shortly before the hearing, I do not believe this prevented him from putting forward his case or having a fair hearing.

“I deny that including the sexual harassment allegations in the investigation was unfair.”

Paul Birkett-Wendes, who chaired Jon’s disciplinary hearing at the time he was head of operations in the north division, said: “My disciplinary outcome concluded that Jon had placed trust paramedics at significant risk, both in respect of their working at height and in respect of open water training.

“As such I consider there has been a complete breakdown in trust and confidence between the parties. In addition to the above health and safety concerns, there is evidence Jon has demonstrated a pattern of inappropriate behaviour towards his colleagues.”

Jennifer Winslade, executive director of quality and clinical care, who chaired the appeal hearing, said to ensure his appeal process was ‘absolutely fair’, Mr Penny was offered a further opportunity to gather witness statements but says she received no statements for her review and consideration.

She said: “After hearing all of the evidence, I concluded that Jon’s conduct was so serious it warranted a finding of gross misconduct by the disciplinary hearing.

“After a review of the findings of the disciplinary panel I found their conclusions to be fair and reasonable.”

The hearing continues.

View original article

Inspector quit after care regulator ‘ignored’ report

The Times  June 13 2019


Whorlton Hall was taken over by Cygnet Health Care this yearWhorlton Hall was taken over by Cygnet Health Care this yearBBC/PA

An inspector whose report highlighting failings at a scandal-hit hospital was never published resigned from the regulator, protesting that some of its staff were too close to the private company that ran the hospital.

Barry Stanley-Wilkinson also complained of a “toxic” culture at the Care Quality Commission and said many of its inspectors felt that they worked in a “bullying, hostile environment”.

Mr Stanley-Wilkinson resigned six months after he led an inspection in 2015 of Whorlton Hall, a private hospital in Co Durham for adults with learning disabilities or autism. Police arrested ten carers at the hospital last month after Panorama on the BBC broadcast footage of staff appearing to mock and intimidate patients.

The inspector reported in 2015 that some patients had accused staff of bullying and inappropriate behaviour. He said patients did not know how to protect themselves from abuse and recommended that the hospital should be given a rating of “requires improvement”.

His report was never published and a new CQC team that inspected Whorlton Hall in 2016 gave it a “good” rating. Mr Stanley-Wilkinson’s resignation email, sent to the CQC in January 2016, was published yesterday by parliament’s joint committee on human rights, which took evidence from two CQC executives. He expressed frustration that his report on Whorlton Hall had not been published “despite significant findings that compromised the safety, care and welfare of patients”.

He referred to a complaint about his report by the hospital, which was then run by the healthcare company Danshell, and pointed out that it had previously been run by Castlebeck, which ran Winterbourne View, a care home where there had been an abuse scandal in 2011. Whorlton Hall was taken over by Cygnet Health Care this year.

“I am concerned about the relationship managers have had with the service,” Mr Stanley-Wilkinson wrote. “Discussions had taken place without my involvement despite me being the inspector.”

Paul Lelliott, deputy chief executive of the CQC, said the 2015 report had had inconsistencies and lacked evidence. Ian Trenholm, its chief executive, said the CQC planned to develop a new way to monitor institutions.


View original article in The Times


NHS Whistleblowing and the Law

Joseph England, a Barrister, has recently published a handbook entitled NHS Whistleblowing and the Law.

The book is intended to be accessible to those pursuing their own claims, as well as lawyers, and to try and demystify some of the legal complexities.


Whistleblowing claims are some of the most complex and technical cases that can be pursued. This book provides a comprehensive and practical guide to the law in this field. The topic has received increased attention in recent years as a result of several high profile cases and incidents across a wide range of areas. Such claims are increasingly common, can be brought by workers and employees and do not require a specific length of service. A thorough understanding of the legal framework, as provided in this new publication, is essential.

This publication explains the various legislative requirements to whistleblowing, covering topics including:

  • who can be a whistleblower within the legal definition;
  • when raising a concern is elevated to be a protected disclosure;
  • the law relating to detriments and dismissal if caused by a protected disclosure;
  • what remedies are available
  • practical points about the procedure of claims.

The book provides an in-depth practical guide to the law and a very useful reference tool for practitioners on both sides of a dispute, as well as assisting litigants acting without a lawyer to comprehend the law in this complex area.

Foreword by Francesca West, Chief Executive of Protect (formerly Public Concern at Work).


Joseph England is a Barrister at 3 Paper Buildings and a specialist Employment practitioner. His busy practice has ensured he has in-depth experience of a wide variety of areas and types of claim, including significant expertise in whistleblowing cases both within and outside of the NHS. Of note, he acted as junior for the successful Claimant who was awarded £1.22mil in Mattu v University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust (ET, 1302226/11, 1303494/12) and in the successful appeal in McTigue v University Hospital Bristol NHS Foundation Trust ([2016] IRLR 742), which considered the scope of protection for whistleblowers, leading to a wider definition of those who could claim protection. He has also acted for various respondents in whistleblowing cases, including NHS Trusts and Health Boards, Education Institutions and a wide variety of businesses. Further details and examples of cases can be found on his chambers’ website.

His success and evident abilities have led clients to trust Joseph with very complex cases. Joseph’s practice benefits from representing and advising both sides of employment disputes and he has been instructed in cases at the Court of Appeal, EAT and at a wide range of final and preliminary hearings in tribunal and court. He regularly delivers training covering areas from nuanced and niche points of law to basics of the Tribunal procedure and mock tribunals. He has been published in the ELA Briefing, on Westlaw and provides updates through Chambers and on Twitter @JEnglandCounsel.


Chapter One – Points of Procedure
Types of Claim
Freedom to Speak Up: Raising Concerns (Whistleblowing) Policy for the NHS
A Claim in the Employment Tribunal
The Start of a Tribunal Claim
Time Limits
Preliminary Hearings

Chapter Two – Who Can Be a Whistleblower?
NHS Job Applicants

Chapter Three – Has the Whistle Been Blown?
Does the Disclosure Contain the Required Content?
Reasonable Belief of the Worker
Made in the Public Interest
‘Tends to Show’
Has the Protected Disclosure Been Made in the Required Manner?

Chapter Four – Liability
Who to Claim Against?
‘On the Ground That’
Dismissal Under S.103A Era 1996

Chapter Five – Remedy
Interim Relief
Reinstatement and Re-Engagement
Compensation for Unfair Dismissal and Financial Loss
Good Faith
Injury to Feelings

Chapter Six – Contemporary and Future Issues
Freedom to Speak Up and Whistleblowing Guardians
Legislative Developments
Non-Disclosure Agreements
Sources of Advice

Details and where to buy can be found here: http://www.lawbriefpublishing.com/product/nhswhistleblowing/.

A free chapter can be read at the above site to give a flavour.

Whistle-blower calls for heads to roll at NHS Highland

The Inverness Courier 14 May 2019   By Gregor White

Carolyn Dow.    Carolyn Dow

AN NHS whistle-blower who says she was demoted after raising concerns about her team’s treatment by management has called for senior decision-makers to consider their position in the wake of the Sturrock review into bullying.

Carolyn Dow (52) was a divisional nurse manager for surgery at Raigmore Hospital but now works in a GP practice in Tayside.

Her grievance had centred around management wrongly trying to blame nurses for failure to contain an outbreak of C-difficile.

Talking to the Inverness Courier last year she said she was vindicated following an investigation – only to subsequently be told she could not remain in post because other managers felt they could not trust her.

Following the publication of QC John Sturrock’s 176-page report into bullying and harassment in NHS Highland last week she called it “honest and fair”.

Hoping it will prove a catalyst for decisive action she said: “I do feel that all the whistle-blowers who came forward last year and those who were whistle-blowers a few years ago have been proven to be right.

“It is just such a shame that some of the perpetrators have left the organisation and will not be held accountable.

“Not only the board who were in place at the time of the bullying but also the regional senior managers should be held to account.

“They should be considering their position and their ethical and moral responsibility to resign.”

Radiographers report bullying and harassment by NHS bosses By Press Association 2019

Worcester News 6 May 2019

MRI machineMRI machine

NHS managers in Ayrshire and Arran have been accused of bullying and harassment by almost 90 radiographers.

The Society of Radiographers (SoR) has revealed that 85 staff working for NHS Ayrshire and Arran have submitted official complaints about the behaviour of managers, with a further 16 considering adding their names to the grievance.

Staff claim that there have been “years of allegations of bullying and harassment by line managers” which has led to more than half of all SoR members at the health board making complaints.

Last week, the professional body’s annual conference voted to support colleagues to take action, after the claims of “aggressive behaviour and lack of empathy and support for staff who are upset or distressed”.

Deborah Shepherd, the SoR national officer for Scotland, said: “We have been trying to have the issues about the behaviour of certain line managers resolved without having to take formal action.

“A meeting with the chief executive of NHS Ayrshire and Arran, John Burns, failed to happen and members feel that the health board isn’t listening and doesn’t care about how they are being treated.”

Claire West@radpirate03

Make absolutely no mistake! if hospital trusts continue to protect managers who consistantly bully and harass our members then the SoR will take action. Great show of solidarity ADC

SCoR Scotland Members@SCoRScotland

ADC show the ‘red card’ to Ayrshire and Arran | Society of Radiographers https://www.sor.org/news/adc-show-red-card-ayrshire-and-arran 

See Claire West’s other Tweets

Responding to the allegations, Mr Burns said the health board takes the concerns seriously and has offered to work with SoR members through an independent review.

Mr Burns added: “I personally offered to meet with staff to assure them that this co-produced process would be a formal process with clear outcomes. This would not remove the right for a grievance to be heard at a later date should that be a conclusion of the review.

“Having been advised by the Society of Radiographers that their members did not wish to take forward the proposal, we confirmed to the Society that the grievance will proceed in accordance with board policy. Arrangements are under way to hear the grievance.

“We recognise that this is a difficult time for all staff who are affected by this grievance.”

NHS Ayrshire bullying row as overworked radiographers ‘suicidal’ and ‘scared to speak up’

The Herald  6 May 2019

Exclusive by Helen McArdle Health Correspondent

Deborah Shepherd, National Official Scotland for the Society of Radiographers
Deborah Shepherd, National Official Scotland for the Society of Radiographers

NHS Ayrshire has become the latest health board to be rocked by claims of bullying after nearly 100 radiographers lodged a formal grievance against their managers.

The backlash by staff in NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s diagnostic imaging department was sparked after a radiographer and trade union rep was threatened with disciplinary action after challenging proposed changes to CT scanning, which staff feared put patient safety at risk.

The radiographer, Fiona Ferguson, had only recently returned to work following treatment for breast cancer, but has now being signed off for “work-related stress” by her GP.

The case was described by the Society of Radiographers’ (SoR) national officer for Scotland, Deborah Shepherd, as a “final straw after years of bullying, harassment and victimisation” which she said had driven at least two employees within the department to the brink of suicide.

She said she had been personally telephoned in the past two years by two individuals on the verge of ending their lives over work pressures – one who was on the Erskine Bridge, and another who was poised to overdose on pills.

The Herald has also been told that staffing shortages have seen radiographers “making themselves ill” amid pressure to take on extra shifts.

Ms Shepherd said: “Members have for years been very reluctant to put in formal grievances, because their impression is that when they do that they get targeted and it puts themselves and their careers at risk.

“Of course, the board says ‘there can’t be a bullying and harassment problem because nobody’s putting in grievances’. The reason for that of course is that if they did, they’d be victimised.

“So for years we’ve been telling the board there’s a culture of harassment and bullying in there, and it’s been getting progressively worse.”

Read more: Senior audiologists warn over ‘extremely poor standards’ at NHS Borders

The collective grievance letter, signed by 85 radiographers and radiology staff from both Crosshouse and Ayr hospitals, was sent to chief executive John Burns on April 3.

It describes staff at Crosshouse feeling “intimidated, scared to speak up for fear of retribution” and complains of “a lack of consistency in the application of NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s existing grievance process which serves only to marginalise and isolate individuals from colleagues”.

They say their staff meetings are “regularly cancelled when there are major issues to be discussed”, and that meetings are either not minuted at all or the minutes “are not a true reflection of discussions”.

Certain managers in the department are said to “adopt a passive aggressive approach in all dealings with staff” and “for a long time our concerns and views have been ignored by management”.

Radiography staff from University Hospital Ayr say they are “increasingly frustrated at the micromanagement that appears to happen on a daily basis”, and by the “persistent lack of consistency in treatment of staff and a lack of compassion, particularly when personal circumstances can impact on work”.

In 2015, a ‘seek-to-understand’ exercise was undertaken by external consultants after a staff survey flagged up a bullying problem within the imaging department.

However, the SoR says recommendations were never acted upon.

Read more: Medics blast ‘culture of fear and intimidation’ at NHS Highland

The latest crisis was sparked after Ms Ferguson, 55, attended a meeting with imaging department managers on March 15 – just three weeks after she had returned to work following nine months’ sick leave for breast cancer.

SoR members were concerned that proposed changes to CT head scanning, relating to radiography staff in the emergency department, could cause delays or disruption to the treatment of patients with conditions such as head trauma or stroke.

Ms Ferguson had been asked to collate and present comments from staff, but she says she was repeatedly “shut down” and left shell shocked when the meeting was aborted amid accusations from managers that she was being “aggressive and disrespectful” – something she denies.

On March 28, Ms Ferguson was told that a grievance had been lodged against her for “inappropriate behaviour in a meeting” and that she would be transferred with immediate effect from Crosshouse to Ayr Hospital while an investigation took place.

The Crosshouse ban meant that Ms Ferguson, a radiographer at the site for 18 years, required permission to accompany her 82-year-old mother into the hospital for X-rays and CT scans after she suffered a bad fall in March.

Although the transfer was subsequently reversed following an intervention by Mr Burns, Ms Ferguson says the stress left her feeling unable to cope with her work.

“I’m just scared of making a mistake,” she said, adding that she believes the meeting on March 15 was “set up” as an excuse to get rid of her.

She said: “That was five weeks ago and I still don’t know what I’m accused of, apart from ‘inappropriate behaviour’, and I still don’t know who’s accused me.

“Even if I hadn’t just come back from breast cancer, that’s just a horrific way to treat a human being.”

A colleague, who asked not to be named, added: “While all this has been going on in the background, we have been delivering patient care to the best of our ability and we want to work with the organisation to resolve these issues but we want them to be taken seriously.

“This undercurrent of bullying and poor management has to be removed. It’s terrible to work in an environment where you’re scared to speak up.”

Ms Shepherd added that staff are dismayed that the managers subject to the collective grievance have not yet been suspended.

She said: “Staff are not confident that these matters are being taken seriously because the managers are still in the building. They don’t believe that would happen with any other staff member.”

Read more: Fife cancer doctor ‘bullied out of job’ says whistleblowing cost her her career

John Burns, chief executive at NHS Ayrshire, said the health board took “seriously” all concerns raised by staff. Mr Burns had offered to bring in independent consultants from Core Solutions, the Edinburgh-based mediation company led by John Sturrock QC, in a bid to “work collaboratively to agree the best way to understand the issues”.

This was rejected by SoR members, who considered it a delay tactic and waste of taxpayers’ money. 

Mr Burns said: “This would have enabled a joint ownership, supporting NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s wish to work collaboratively with the Society.

“I personally offered to meet with staff to assure them that this co-produced process would be a formal process with clear outcomes.

“This would not remove the right for a grievance to be heard at a later date should that be a conclusion of the review.

“Having been advised by the Society of Radiographers that their members did not wish to take forward the proposal, we confirmed to the Society that the grievance will proceed in accordance with Board Policy.

“Arrangements are underway to hear the grievance.

“We recognise that this is a difficult time for all staff who are affected by this grievance.”