Whistleblowing by Carraroe native leads to UK NHS probe

Sligo Champion July 25 2020

Sligo native David Phelan was a senior manager with the NHS until he uncovered alleged fraud and became a whistleblower. Now the police are investigating his claims. He speaks to Jessica Farry

David Phelan. Pic: Carl BrennanDavid Phelan. Pic: Carl Brennan

A Sligo man whose whistle-blowing has led to the UK police opening an investigation into a hospital says he now feels vindicated, after he used tech skills he learned at IT Sligo to expose alleged fraud relating to waiting lists.

David Phelan, a Carraroe native, was a senior manager with the NHS in England for 15 years, working in Kettering General Hospital.

In 2015, he felt compelled to whistleblow after he noticed patients were removed from waiting lists of Kettering General Hospital which he alleges was done to improve the hospital’s waiting list figures.

The Northamptonshire police are now investigating the alleged fraud.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the investigation into the hospital in a letter to Labour’s health spokesman, Jonathan Ashworth.

The Health Secretary said: “I note t hat Northamptonshire Police have begun an investigation into allegations of False and Misleading Information Offences at Kettering General Hospital. As Secretary of State for Health and Social Care I have made it clear that there is no place in the NHS or Government for anything other than the highest levels of honesty and integrity and I will tolerate nothing other than that.”

Simon Weldon, now Chief Executive Officer at Kettering General Hospital, was not in that role at the time of the alleged fraud, but he has made contact with Mr. Phelan ‘out of the blue’ to inform him that they would assist the police with the inquiries.

He said: “As you know, I have confirmed on behalf of the Trust that we are happy to assist the police with their enquiries and in order to avoid any possible prejudice to their investigation, I will not at this stage provide detailed responses or commentary to third parties including yourself, despite your close interest in this matter.”

It’s five years since David whistleblew, which resulted in him losing his job early in 2016.

“Regardless of whether they find them innocent or guilty, the fact that the police are now going to investigate, I feel vindicated in that my allegations are being taken that seriously,” he told The Sligo Champion.

Although not working in tech in the hospital, the former Summerhill College student was able to use the skills he learned at IT Sligo to prove his suspicions that something untoward was going on with the hospital waiting lists.

At IT Sligo, David studied Information Systems, which included a module on database technologies.

“It was through having those skills that I was able to crack this crime,” he said.

“That’s how I proved it. I wasn’t employed in tech. I was doing a senior management job which didn’t involve working as a technologist.

“When the figures started looking strange to me, I just thought it didn’t look right so I managed to get access to the computer code used to print the waiting list, and it was from that then that I as able to see that filters were put on the database to remove six categories of patients from the waiting list.”

‘Bullied’ NHS whistleblower who raised concerns about missed cancer diagnoses settles lengthy dispute

The Times 3 April 2020

A RADIOGRAPHER and former employee of Furness General Hospital (FGH) has settled a long-running legal dispute with University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT).

Sue Allison and UHMBT announced that the two parties have come to a resolution, which involves financial compensation.

Mrs Allison, 58, brought a detriment claim against UHMBT after she says she was subject to prolonged bullying and professional blacklisting following concerns she and a colleague raised about missed cancer diagnoses at the UHMBT breast screening unit.

Like whistleblower surgeon Peter Duffy, she moved to FGH after alleging workplace retaliation at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary after blowing the whistle.

She has also revealed she was forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) as part of the dispute with UHMBT – despite former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s promise to outlaw such ‘gagging clauses’ in the NHS several years earlier.

Last year, a judge at Manchester Employment Tribunal ruled that this NDA was void and that Mrs Allison’s detriment case should be heard in court.

Mrs Allison’s detriment case was scheduled to take place in 2021 and was expected to last around fifteen days – but it will now not go ahead.

She told The Mail: “We probably would have had to sell our house in order to finance the case, had it gone all the way to Employment Tribunal.

“We’ve got some closure now, at least, and that will help us get our lives back as a family now. They had been in suspension for years, as this dispute took over everything.”

Aaron Cummins, CEO of UHMBT, said: “The trust has always accepted that Sue made a number of protected disclosures during the course of her employment and thanked her for bringing her concerns to the trust’s attention.

“It is disclosures of this type which lead to us being able to identify and explore potential issues and where an investigation proves that there may be an issue, to improve patient safety.

“The safety and care of our patients is our absolute priority. We strongly encourage staff to come forward if they think patients may be in any way at risk, so we can investigate and learn from any mistakes.”

Mrs Allison said: “My main concern when I took out my claim in 2018 was to draw this situation to the attention of the public, patients and employees.

“I felt the toxic managerial culture which I experienced was not only a huge risk to the safety of patients and staff but that public money was being squandered to cover up bad practice and to persecute and gag whistleblowers.

“I do not wish further public funds to be spent, by the trust, defending my claim in a full tribunal. I believe this is not ethical use of public money; this is money which should be spent on patient care.”

Mrs Allison said she plans to set up a consultancy platform for whistleblowers across all sectors in light of her experiences.

“I wish to continue challenging toxic management practices especially in the NHS where they pose a real risk to patient and staff health and safety; I don’t want anyone else to suffer the way I have,” she said.

“I can only continue my work in this area if I do not have to raise the large sums of money required to take my claim to the full tribunal. Asking family and complete strangers to support a further, more costly tribunal claim is something that I am not comfortable with.

“I also feel that whether I won or lost the tribunal the result would not have any great impact on whistleblower protection as very few whistleblowers actually get as far as tribunal with a detriment claim.

“The trust has offered me an opportunity to work with them to improve the culture around speaking up in the trust; this is something we will be discussing further over the coming months

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Staff at hospital in whistleblower scandal were ‘coached in how to fool inspectors’

A report has downgraded West Suffolk Hospital to ‘requires improvement’
A report has downgraded West Suffolk Hospital to ‘requires improvement’
JOHN FIELDING

Executives at the local hospital of the health secretary, Matt Hancock, allegedly arranged a roleplay session in which staff members were tutored in ways to steer health regulators away from potential whistleblowers during last year’s inspection.

A senior clinician at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds has claimed managers were so desperate to keep its “outstanding” status that measures were put in place to minimise dissenting voices during the annual inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The clinician, who has asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, says there were serious issues that needed to be raised with the inspectors.

The doctor described incidents in which chronic understaffing had resulted in critically ill elderly patients being left malnourished and crying out in pain while lying in soiled beds.

A number of doctors have also claimed that a “bullying” management culture has led to staff being too afraid to speak up about patient safety concerns inside the hospital, which serves Hancock’s constituents.

Insight revealed two weeks ago that one of the hospital’s most senior consultants, Dr Patricia Mills, had been placed under disciplinary investigation after she voiced concerns about blunders that killed one patient and left another seriously brain-damaged.

The hospital held a management training day last summer after it was made aware that it was going to be inspected by the CQC during late September and early October.

According to the source, two senior managers played the role of CQC inspectors in one session during the training day. “It was about how you can remove whistleblowers from the equation,” said the source.

The awkward staff identified were those who had previously “gone on about having a terrible day, hating the job or ‘This place is awful’”, the source said.

“We were shown how to greet the inspector straight away at the door and take them to someone who would willingly talk to them about all the good stuff while we whipped round sending difficult people on a break.”

In addition, the source said: “Nursing rotas were examined two weeks before the visit, and for people they knew would be trouble it was suggested rotas would be altered to make sure they were not on shift that day.”

The source said staff were terrified about raising concerns with the inspectors for fear they would lose their jobs. Some, however, did seek them out to describe an alleged climate of intimidation and bullying at executive level.

The conversations are reflected in last month’s CQC report, which noted: “Some staff told us that they felt that the executive team were so focused on maintaining outstanding status this impacted on the response received when concerns were raised and they ‘only wanted to hear the good’.”

The report downgraded the hospital to “requires improvement”. It criticised the executive leadership for not fostering an “open and empowering culture” and expressed specific concerns about the way it treated whistleblowers.

It also found that safety concerns were not identified or addressed quickly enough.

The report did not note staff or food shortages at the time of the inspection. But the source said it was these sorts of problems on the wards that the hospital had been seeking to hide from the inspectors.

Last week Heidi Smoult, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector for hospitals, said the inspection team had spoken to 200 staff members, including whistleblowers, and had not been aware of any hospital efforts to prevent inspectors from talking to clinicians.

She added that the CQC’s report found “staff did not always feel respected, supported and valued, or able to raise concerns without fear of retribution”.

The hospital said: “Our services have enough staff to care for patients and we have more nurses than ever before.”

 

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NHS to pay £870,000 to whistleblower doctor who spoke out on patient safety

Evening Standard   RACHAEL BURFORD    11 March 2020

Seven-year fight: Dr Kevin Beatt said he lost his career to highlight dangerous practicesSeven-year fight: Dr Kevin Beatt said he lost his career to highlight dangerous practices ( Kevin Beatt/@drbeatt )

London NHS trust has been ordered to pay a leading heart doctor more than £870,000 after he was sacked for whistleblowing about safety concerns following a patient’s death.

Dr Kevin Beatt, one of the UK’s most respected consultant cardiologists, was fired from Croydon Health Services in 2012 after reporting staff shortages, inadequate equipment and workplace bullying at the trust.

He was awarded £870,740 by a tribunal on Monday following a seven-year legal battle with his former employer.

The tribunal heard Dr Beatt’s dismissal “had a devastating effect on his career and his wellbeing”.

He told the Standard: “I was forced into a position where I lost my career for trying to highlight dangerous practices in the NHS. It has taken seven years to get to this point, which is just appalling.

“It has been a huge ordeal and I have the greatest sympathy for any whistleblower who has to go through something like this.”

Dr Beatt was considered a leader in his field after his research into alternatives to open heart surgery but was refused several roles at other hospitals after his sacking, the tribunal heard.

He was employed at the Croydon trust in 2005 and set up Croydon University Hospital’s cardiac interventional service, which “saved money and resulted in significantly improved outcomes for patients”.

However, he was dismissed after speaking out at a 2011 inquest into the death of a 63-year-old patient who suffered cardiac arrest amid complications during an operation.

Dr Beatt said he was unaware trust bosses had suspended his most senior nurse hours before the surgery and left him without a member of staff with a basic understanding of the procedure for 20 minutes.

During the inquest he described the nurse’s removal as the “most overtly reckless act” he had seen in his career.

Dr Beatt also flagged concerns with directors about inadequate equipment, bullying, nursing shortages and a failure to properly investigate serious incidents.

He was not given protected status as a whistleblower and was instead fired for what the trust claimed was “unsubstantiated and unproven allegations of an unsafe service” amounting to gross misconduct.

A 2014 employment tribunal ruled that the consultant cardiologist was unfairly dismissed and there was no evidence of wrongdoing on his part.

The trust’s appeal against the ruling was upheld in 2015, but a Court of Appeal judge overturned that decision two years later. A further hearing, which finished in January, was held to determine Dr Beatt’s compensation.

He said it was “reckless” for the trust to continue to pursue the case after the original tribunal and he was only able to fight the court battles because legal firm Linklaters agreed to work pro bono.

“My legal fees would have run up to almost a million pounds,” he said.

A spokesman for Croydon Health Services said: “This has been a very complex case that we felt necessary to pursue to protect confidence in our services and staff.

“We strive to ensure our staff feel supported to raise concerns and we continue to foster a culture of openness.

“We have also appointed a team of designated ‘Speak Up Guardians’, including a doctor, nurse, therapist and manager, allowing all of our staff to share their views.”

 

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Whistleblower nurse with spotless 38-year record was unfairly sacked after warning that crippling NHS staff workload had led to patient’s death, tribunal rules

  • Linda Fairhall claimed NHS nurses were under an unfair strain due to new duties 
  • She said concerns were vindicated following the ‘preventable’ death of a patient
  • After returning from a holiday, she was sacked over concerns at her ‘leadership’
  • Employment tribunal ruled she was unfairly dismissed and NHS faces a pay out

Linda Fairhall, an NHS nurse since 1979, claimed district nurses were being put under an unfair strain due to new duties placed upon them in 2013Linda Fairhall, an NHS nurse since 1979, claimed that district nurses were put under an unfair strain due to new duties place upon them since 2013  

A nurse with a spotless 38-year record was unfairly sacked after warning that the crippling workload on NHS staff had led to a patient’s death, a tribunal has ruled.

Linda Fairhall, an NHS nurse since 1979, claimed district nurses were being put under an unfair strain due to new duties placed upon them in 2013.

She warned that asking the nurses to monitor patient prescriptions on top of their existing duties placed them under unfair strain and risked patients’ lives.

Mrs Fairhall claimed her concerns were vindicated following the ‘preventable’ death of a patient in October 2016.

She began the whistleblowing process but discovered on her return to work from leave that she had been sacked for concerns about her leadership capabilities.

However a report by the Care Quality Commission had commended Mrs Fairhall for her leadership qualities the previous year.

An employment tribunal today ruled she was unfairly dismissed after 38 years service with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust.

A remedies hearing in July will consider how much compensation she should be paid.

From 2008, senior nurse Mrs Fairhall was employed as a clinical care co-ordinator for the Stockton region and then transferred to Hartlepool in June 2013.

Later that year she raised concerns over the then-new requirement for district nurses to monitor patients’ prescriptions.

She said it meant a sudden increase of around 1,000 extra visits a month for the service with no extra resources available.

Over the next 10 months, she reported 13 instances where she claimed the health or safety of patients and staff was being or was likely to be put at risk.

Ms Fairhall, who oversaw a team of around 50 district nurses, was concerned about their workload, employee stress and sickness, as well as risk to patients.

The death of a patient in 2016 prompted a meeting where Mrs Fairhall expressed the view that it may have been prevented if any of the 13 cases she had reported had been listened to.

From 2008, senior nurse Mrs Fairhall was employed as a clinical care co-ordinator for the Stockton region and then transferred to Hartlepool (pictured) in June 2013

 

Later the same month, she told the trust’s care group director Julie Parks that she wished to instigate the formal whistle-blowing procedure before going on annual leave.

But, on her return to work on October 31, she was told she had been suspended over allegations of potential gross misconduct relating to her leadership.

She remained suspended for 18 months and during this period she also battled her own personal tragedies, the hearing was told.

She was still recovering from breast cancer treatment, her teenage son was also unwell and eight months into the suspension, her partner died from a heart attack.

After various investigations and appeals, Mrs Fairhall was dismissed in April 2018.

The employment tribunal found the trust’s investigation into her alleged misconduct to be ‘inadequate and unreasonable in all the circumstances of the case’.

The judgment said: ‘Witnesses referred to little more than “themes” or “perceptions” by the staff, none of which contained a level of detail which would have enabled Mrs Fairhall to respond.

‘The tribunal found that no reasonable employer, in all circumstances of the case, would have conducted the investigation in this manner.’

The tribunal also criticised the trust for not giving a ‘meaningful or adequate’ explanation of why the suspension lasted 18 months.

It said it was an ‘inordinate and unreasonable length of time for an employee of the claimant’s superiority and length of service to be suspended’.

The judgment added: ‘The trust’s decision to dismiss the claimant fell outside the range of reasonable responses open to an employer in all circumstances of the case.

‘This was an employee of 38 years unblemished service who was suspended from her role in circumstances where that suspension was unjustified and unreasonable.

‘The trust has failed to establish that she committed any act of misconduct which could justify dismissal.’

Mrs Fairhall said she was ‘absolutely devastated’ by the effect it has had on her life.

She said: ‘I have been utterly humiliated, my life has been left in chaos and my professional integrity has been questioned leaving my reputation irreparably damaged.

‘I am devastated that after almost 40 years in a career I have been passionate about, and working in an organisation that I have always been proud to be part of, that I am left in this situation.

‘As a result of the impact on my physical and mental health it has been necessary to allow my professional registration to lapse and come to terms and grieve for the loss of my career.

‘I will no longer be working as a nurse due to the fear of being able to escalate concerns.

‘I would therefore deem myself as being unable to adhere to my professional code of conduct and potentially place patient care at risk.’

A spokesman for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust said: ‘We acknowledge the ruling and intend to appeal the decision.’

Thrive Law, which represented Ms Fairhall, said the impact on their client was ‘profound’.

‘She no longer is able to work and has lost her career as a nurse,’ said a spokesperson.

‘This all arose from her trying to protect patient and staff safety and reporting genuine concerns she had.’

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Li Wenliang: Coronavirus death of Wuhan doctor sparks anger

BBC News  7 February 2020

The death of a Chinese doctor who tried to warn about the coronavirus outbreak has sparked widespread public anger and grief in China.

Dr Li posts a picture of himself in a gas mask from his hospital bed on FridayDr Li had posted a picture of himself on social media from his hospital bed

Li Wenliang died after contracting the virus while treating patients in Wuhan.

Last December he sent a message to fellow medics warning of a virus he thought looked like Sars – another deadly coronavirus.

But he was told by police to “stop making false comments” and was investigated for “spreading rumours”.

“I don’t think he was rumour-mongering. Hasn’t this turned into reality now?” his father, Li Shuying, told the BBC. “My son was wonderful.”

According to Chinese site Pear Video, Dr Li’s wife is due to give birth in June.

The virus causes severe acute respiratory infection and symptoms usually start with a fever, followed by a dry cough.

Most of those killed have been over the age of 60 or have suffered from other medical conditions, China’s health authorities say. Dr Li’s medical history is not known.

A vigil for Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist who died of coronavirus at a hospital in Wuhan, in Hong Kong, China. 7 Feb 2020Image copyright REUTERS vigil for Li Wenliang, who died on Friday morning, was held in Hong Kong

 

The country’s anti-corruption body said it would open an investigation into “issues involving Dr Li”.

China’s leadership had already faced accusations of downplaying the severity of the virus – and initially trying to keep it secret.

The government has admitted “shortcomings and deficiencies” in its response to the virus, which has now killed 636 people and infected 31,198 in mainland China.

Graphic showing the number of cases in China so far
Presentational white space

What has the public reaction been?

Analysts say it is hard to recall an event in recent years that has triggered as much online grief, rage and mistrust against the Chinese government.

News of Dr Li’s death became the top trending topic on Chinese social media, garnering an estimated 1.5bn views.

His death has also brought demands for action, with “Wuhan government owes Dr Li Wenliang an apology” and “We want freedom of speech” among the hashtags trending.

Both hashtags were quickly censored. When the BBC searched Weibo early on Friday, hundreds of thousands of comments had been wiped. Only a handful remain.

“This is not the death of a whistleblower. This is the death of a hero,” read one comment.

A photo circulating on Twitter reportedly sourced from messaging platform WeChat showed a message in Chinese saying “Farewell Li Wenliang” written in the snow on a riverbank.

Hospital whistleblower raised alarm over doctor seen injecting himself

The Guardian 

The health secretary, Matt Hancock, chats to Stephen Dunn, chief executive of West Suffolk NHS foundation trust and the hospital’s medical director Nick Jenkins
 The health secretary, Matt Hancock, chats to Stephen Dunn (right), chief executive of West Suffolk NHS foundation trust, and the hospital’s medical director, Nick Jenkins. Photograph: Twitter @SteveDunnCEO

A whistleblower raised the alarm over patient safety at Matt Hancock’s local hospital because of concerns about the behaviour of a doctor who had been seen injecting himself with drugs, the Guardian can reveal.

The incident had already prompted internal complaints from senior staff at West Suffolk hospital, but the whistleblower decided to take matters a step further when the same doctor was later involved in a potentially botched operation.

The whistleblower then wrote to relatives of a dead patient and urged them to ask questions about the conduct of the doctor and his background.

When they did this, the hospital launched a widely criticised “witch-hunt” in an attempt to find out the identity of the leaker.

The doctor’s drug use, which the trust has never acknowledged until now, helps explain why it demanded fingerprint and handwriting samples from staff – tactics which the NHS regulator roundly condemned in a hard-hitting report last week.

Last month Hancock ordered the trust to undergo a rapid review from which he recused himself after failing to act on doctors’ concerns about bullying.

In an anonymous letter to widower Jon Warby, the whistleblower said the self-injecting doctor was later present when medical blunders were made before the death of Warby’s 57-year-old wife, Susan, in August 2018.

The letter said: “He had injected himself with drugs before, while in charge of a patient and it was all hushed up.

“You need to ask questions about this doctor and what investigations had been [made] about him before. We think there is a big cover-up.”

Consultants at the trust had already raised the alarm that the doctor’s use of injected drugs could pose a risk to patients by impairing his judgment and coordination.

But rather than address the criticism of its handling of the problem, the trust’s management launched an extraordinary hunt to identify the whistleblower.

The Care Quality Commission said the lengths to which the hospital was going to find the whistleblower were “unprecedented and concerning” as it handed out its biggest ever rating downgrade.

It said the “questionable” tactics left doctors feeling intimidated, at loggerheads with bosses who it said were too focused on who sent the letter rather than why they had done so.

One doctor at the trust told the Guardian “more than 10 people felt really concerned” about the doctor’s behaviour after he was seen injecting himself intravenously with magnesium sulphate and another drug used as painkiller. They claimed the trust failed to properly respond to the incident and offer the doctor appropriate support and time off work.

A letter from a consultant sent to the trust’s medical director, Dr Nick Jenkins, in March 2018, confirmed there was “a great deal of concern” after the self-injecting episode was logged as a patient safety incident.

The letter, one of four formal complaints on the issue, said: “Rapid IV administration of magnesium can cause arrhythmias and hypotension and it is only given in this way in monitored patients. The self-administration of this drug intravenously whilst being on call can therefore only put patient safety at risk.”

It recommended that the doctor be given a “a period of leave whilst doubts are put to rest”.

A trust investigation into the incident found the doctor had done no harm to patients. The General Medical Council was informed but recommended no disciplinary sanctions.

Dozens of staff had accessed Warby’s hospital records, but it was those who had expressed concern about the drug-taking doctor who were asked to provide fingerprint and handwriting samples, insiders claim.

A doctor said: “Staff who were asked for their fingerprints were the doctors who had raised concerns about the drug-injecting doctor. Many colleagues raised concerns about him and his patients’ safety, that were ignored.”

The Guardian can also disclose that the trust is still trying to discipline a suspected whistleblower using handwriting samples and demands for fingerprints despite being heavily criticised for the practice by CQC and publicly stating it had stopped using it.

After the Guardian first revealed the trust’s tactics, managers delivered written apologies “for the stress and upset caused” to all staff involved and said it “no intention of pursuing fingerprint requests further”.

Despite this public display of contrition, bosses have since refused to drop disciplinary action against a doctor accused of being the mole on the basis of handwriting samples and their refusal to provide fingerprints.

The trust’s chief executive, Steve Dunn, personally assured a meeting of consultants that the management would no longer be using handwriting and fingerprints to pursue the matter.

A doctor said: “There is no contrition. The trust continued to pursue an aggressive and intimidatory campaign based on biometrics culminating in accusing an entirely blameless individual.”

A spokeswoman for the trust refused to discuss the investigation directly but pointed out that it was now subject to the rapid review, being overseen by the health minister Edward Argar. She said: “In these complex cases, an independent review with maximum transparency is the right way forward, and we are in support of this approach.”

On the self-injecting doctor she said: ““The matter was investigated in line with trust policies and discussed with the GMC. The individual no longer works at the trust, but, as part of our duty of care, support was provided to ensure they were fit and well to be at work during their time here.”

The doctor’s lawyer refused to comment.

The letter to Warby prompted Suffolk’s senior coroner to refer the drug claim to the police. Suffolk police decided not to investigate after establishing that no illegal drugs were involved.

 

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Urgent inquiry ordered into ‘witch-hunt’ at West Suffolk hospital

The Guardian Tue 28 Jan 2020       Denis Campbell and Matthew Weaver

Hospital bosses under fire for trying to find whistleblower who wrote to patient’s family

The government has ordered an urgent inquiry into the local hospital of the health secretary, Matt Hancock, after the Guardian revealed its unprecedented “witch-hunt” for a whistleblower.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has told NHS England to commission a “rapid review” of the actions of bosses at West Suffolk hospital.

They are under fire for demanding that staff give fingerprints and samples of their handwriting to help identify who wrote to a family alerting them to failings in care that contributed to a patient’s death.

Unusually, the investigation has been instigated by Edward Argar, a junior minister at the DHSC, because Hancock and another health minister, Jo Churchill, are both local MPs who have close ties to the hospital.

Argar has made clear to NHS England that the inquiry must be undertaken by independent experts, given those existing relationships.

The review could raise difficult questions about what Hancock – a professed champion of NHS whistleblowers – knew about the trust’s tactics and what he did about it. He is a staunch supporter of Steve Dunn, the hospital’s chief executive, whom he hailed as “a brilliant leader” when he was made CBE for services to health and patient safety.

Announcing the review, Argar made clear that he wanted hospital personnel to speak openly. “I want all staff to feel that they can speak up and have the confidence that anything they raise will be taken seriously,” he said.

The move comes a day before the Care Quality Commission publishes an inspection report into West Suffolk that may lead to the hospital losing its outstanding rating.

The Guardian revealed last month that the health secretary ignored concerns being raised about the hospital, including by some of its doctors.

The inquiry’s terms of reference, and the identity of those undertaking it, will be confirmed within days.

The Doctors’ Association UK, which has voiced alarm about the “toxic culture” at the trust, welcomed news of the review.

“We support all initiatives to improve patient safety and therefore welcome this rapid review commissioned by the government, which we hope will shine a light on concerns raised about decisions taken by senior managers,” said Dr Rinesh Parmar, the association’s chair.

“We hope that going forwards the dedicated staff at the trust are given all the support they need to reinstate an environment and culture of openness. Not only will this improve staff morale, it will create a palpable change that commands the confidence of the patients of West Suffolk.”

The review follows a series of Guardian revelations that have highlighted serious patient safety concerns and the “bullying” of doctors who hospital bosses believed raised the alarm.

We disclosed in December that the trust’s management had demanded that doctors provide fingerprint and handwriting samples to track down a whistleblower. The extraordinary tactics sought to identify an anonymous letter writer who alerted Jon Warby, a widower, to surgical mistakes made before his wife, Susan, died in August 2018.

An inquest into the 57-year-old’s death was opened earlier this month at Suffolk coroner’s court but has been adjourned.

The trust’s tactics, which were widely condemned as a “witch-hunt”, cost it more than £2,500, which it spent on handwriting and fingerprint experts. The trust’s medical director, Dr Nick Jenkins, sought to justify them by claiming the letter writer had tried to “weaponise a patient”.

In recent weeks the Guardian has reported how:

Doctors said they were too scared to report lapses in patient safety in case they ended up facing disciplinary action.

Medics later accused management of trying to mislead senior staff about the demand for fingerprints by claiming it was only voluntary when in their view it was “coercive”.

The trust failed to act on a potentially fatal failure to monitor vulnerable patients who were at risk of death. An IT glitch meant that patients at risk of a burst aneurysm were not followed up to see how soon they would need potentially lifesaving surgery. A senior doctor at the trust said the trust initially repeatedly refused to take any action.

Last week we revealed that a second family also received a whistleblower tipoff about serious failings in the care of a loved one who later died. Relatives of Horace Nunn were not told of suspected mistakes in his care until two months after an injury in hospital that contributed to his death in July 2016.

The hospital is in the Bury St Edmunds constituency of Jo Churchill, the DHSC parliamentary under secretary for prevention, public health and primary care. Churchill has refused to answer a series of questions posed by the Guardian covering what she knew about patient safety concerns and “bullying”, and what action, if any, she then took.

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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.

FAMILY’S SHOCK DISCOVERY

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’.

 

CORONER RULES MISTAKES CONTRIBUTED TO DEATH

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.”

MEDICS MADE SAME MISTAKE FOUR YEARS LATER

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.

CATASTROPHIC OUTCOME OF FAILINGS

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.

FAMILY SAYS ‘LESSONS WERE NOT LEARNED’

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.”

THREE CONSULTANTS ALLOWED TO CONTINUE WORKING

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.

HOSPITAL TRUST SAYS SORRY

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.”

FAMILY SAYS ‘TOO LITTLE TOO LATE’

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.”

READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE

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