Workplace bullying and mobbing: Toxic systems and the eliminationist mindset

Minding the Workplace

(Drawing by Aaron Maeda, copyright 2016)

Virulent instances of workplace mistreatment often involve an eliminationist intention on the part of the chief aggressor(s). Two years ago I wrote that the eliminationist instinct may express itself in several ways, including workplace bullying and mobbing behaviors. It often reflects a desire not only to eliminate an employee from the workplace, but also to undermine the individual’s livelihood and health even after departure from the organization.

This year I’ve also been thinking a lot about the roles of lead aggressors vs. roles played by other organizational actors in work abuse situations, especially from a systems theory perspective that examines how human roles and interactions culminate in systems that produce certain results. In May I wrote:

Thus, a typical campaign of severe bullying or mobbing at work involves multiple players, including but hardly limited to:

  • The main aggressor(s);
  • The supervisor or boss of the…

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Norwich hospital inspected by CQC after ‘bullying’ whistleblowing claims


Junior nursing staff at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital felt “bullied” into accepting patients onto their wards at night, according to a report by the Care Quality Commission.

The regulator inspected the hospital, run by Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, “after a number of whistleblowing contacts” in relation to staffing issues.

“A number of staff told us that they felt ‘bullied’ to take patients that they felt were not appropriate for their area”

CQC report

These included regular movement of staff between wards to fill gaps in rotas, insufficient staff in some areas including medical wards, maternity and children’s services, and allegations of bullying, noted Edward Baker, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals in a letter summarising the visit.

During their visit in April, CQC inspectors concluded that some of the concerns previously raised by whistleblowers remained, with staffing at night being a particular challenge.

Wards had less nursing cover than planned with “frequent movement of staff between wards to manage shortfalls of shifts”, said their report, which was published by the regulator on 10 August.

“Staff also raised concerns regarding skill mix, particularly when staff were moved to other wards at night,” said the report.

Meanwhile, there was some evidence that staff were being pressured into accepting patients onto wards when they did not think it was appropriate.

“A number of staff told us that they felt ‘bullied’ to take patients that they felt were not appropriate for their area,” said the CQC inspectors in their report.

“This was predominantly out of hours,” said the CQC. “Matrons were able to advocate for junior staff during the day but when not available, staff felt under increased pressure to take these patients.”

“We recognise that there are areas that still require improvement”

Mark Davies

However, inspectors went on to state that they held a “positive discussion” with the trust on what the organisation was doing to address the issues raised by the whistleblowers.

They also found the hospital, which is rated “requires improvement” overall by the CQC, had made progress in recruiting extra nursing staff and deploying other staff to reduce risks to patients.

However, the organisation was told it still needed to ensure sufficient staffing and skill mix at all times.

The report noted that, at the point of inspection, it employed 1,935 nursing staff against an establishment of 2,221.

In addition, some safety concerns were highlighted, including that the proportion of staff completing essential training, including safeguarding training, was “well below” target in some areas.

Ted BakerEdward Baker


Inspectors also found surgical safety checks were not being done, despite four “never events” in surgery – two involving “wrong site” surgery.

In addition, the report noted that “almost all” staff who inspectors spoke to were unaware of the trust’s “speak up guardians”, whose role was to support staff to raise concerns.

But the inspectors – who focused on medicine, surgery, children’s and young people services, maternity and gynaecology – also found much to praise at the trust.

This included good examples of multi-disciplinary working and the “excellent” attitude of staff. “All staff were helpful, open and caring in their manner. We found staff to be very ‘upbeat’ locally within ward and clinical teams,” said the report.

Junior nurses in the trust’s medical division described it as a good place to start their career and said they got good support and felt valued by managers. Meanwhile, inspectors also noted a “positive and calm feeling within the team, even during busy periods”.

Other areas of “outstanding” practice highlighted by the CQC included the amount of active clinical research taking place throughout the children and young people’s service, placing it “at the forefront of clinical innovation”.

Inspectors also flagged up innovative training for midwives and others using simulation technology that can replicate changes in a baby’s heartbeat during labour.

Responding to the CQC document, Mark Davies, the trust’s chief executive, said the report documented “significant progress” at the organisation.

Mark DaviesMark Davies


“Our staff are amazing and the good progress we are making on our journey of improvement is because of their dedication and professionalism,” he said.

“Of course, we recognise that there are areas that still require improvement and we are committed to working together with teams to make this happen,” he said.

Regarding the highlighting of bullying claims in the summary of the CQC report, a trust spokeswoman said: “In the CQC report’s 87 pages bullying is hardly mentioned.

“The CQC last year recognised the improvement in culture after the leadership changes, and in this current report made very positive comments in paediatrics, source of some initial concerns,” she said.

“We recognise that the hospital is working under significant daily operational pressure, and we are committed to ensuring that staff and are equipped with the right skills and training to deal with this by further encouraging a culture of respect and resilience,” she told Nursing Times.

She added: “Staff are doing a great job operationally – cancelled operations are down 50% compared with last year, the number of patients admitted as emergencies has drastically reduced, and therefore patient flow is much better and staff should be congratulated on all their efforts.”

The hospital opened in late 2001, having been built under a private finance initiative. It has 913 acute beds and 210 day-case beds.

The trust’s last comprehensive inspection by the CQC was carried out in November 2015 when it was rated as “requires improvement”.

In defence of whistleblowers – they should not be treated as dissenters as they are ‘prophets cast into the wilderness of their own truth’

Mail online India   By Shiv Visvanathan

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NHS whistleblower who exposed understaffing at intensive care unit claims ‘three years on and nothing’s changed’



Chris Day was removed from consultant training by health chiefs after publicising his fears in 2014 – with his bosses claiming he had “personal and professional conduct issues”

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, south-east London (Image: PA)

A doctor who exposed understaffing at an intensive care unit says he has been vindicated by a report showing it still remains three years later.

Whistleblower Chris Day was removed from consultant training by health chiefs after publicising his fears in 2014. His bosses claimed that he had “personal and professional conduct issues”.

Dr Day, now a locum, told of his dismay as it emerged a report by NHS inspectors from South London Critical Care Network revealed “significant concerns” about the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich.

They found it had just one consultant for 19 critically ill patients, in breach of a recommended ratio averaging about one to five. Their report said bosses had “no clear recognition” of the consistent problem “nor any plans to address this”.

It flagged up a lack of leadership and said the hospital’s death rate for patients is among the highest for units that size.

Dr Chris Day NHS whistleblower from Queen Elizabeth Hospital Woolwich

The report was released to the Sunday People under Freedom of Information laws after a tip-off by a senior member of medical staff at a London hospital.

Dr Day, 32, said: “This report proves I was right. It’s a disgrace that patients are exposed to the same risks three years after I raised concerns.

“Some may have died because the health trust hasn’t acted.

“It beggars belief that the patients are still being exposed to the same risks three years after I raised concerns. It is a disgrace and it seems that nobody really cares.

“They have spent three years and hundreds of thousands of public money trying to silence me. And still they are neglecting the patients.”

He added: “I am so grateful to the doctor who gave the tip-off, otherwise the report would have been hidden.”

Last night Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb told the Sunday People: “This is deeply disturbing.

“Patient safety and great care is always enhanced when organisations face up to failures of care, when critical reports are in the public domain rather than kept hidden and when staff feel able to speak out about concerns.”

Father-of-two Chris, whose wife Melissa is a nurse, was removed from consultant training suddenly by Public Education England after raising his original concerns.

Chris obtained the new report with a Freedom of Information request after being tipped off by senior intensive care consultant at a London teaching hospital.

Lewisham and Greenwich Trust said it will “address all issues” in the report.


Croydon University Hospital doctor sacked amid a toxic working atmosphere wins right to compensation

Croydon Advertiser By TMackintosh  |  Posted: May 23, 2017

Dr Kevin Beatt was sacked from his position at Croydon University Hospital in 2012

A heart consultant who was sacked amidst a toxic working atmosphere at Croydon University Hospital has won the right to a big compensation payout.

Dr Kevin Beatt was given his marching orders after “blowing the whistle” on what he believed to be unsafe practices in the cardiology department he founded.

In particular, he believed that a senior nurse’s suspension in the middle of a working day had contributed to a heart patient’s death.

Dr Beatt has been fighting for justice ever since his dismissal in 2012 and has now finally triumphed at the Court of Appeal.

Three top judges agreed with an employment tribunal that Dr Beatt had been unfairly dismissed and penalised for whistle-blowing.

Lord Justice Underhill said relationships between colleagues in the department had been strained for some time before his departure.

He added: “A review by the Royal College of Physicians in 2009 described the cardiology department as ‘dysfunctional’.”

In 2011 the department’s most senior nurse was suspended after a confrontation with two colleagues.

Whilst that was going on, a patient, Gerald Storey, suffered a heart attack during a routine angioplasty on June 9, 2011.

Dr Beatt told his bosses he believed that the 63-year-old had died because a nurse had been suspended without his knowledge, meaning she was unable to help him with the procedure.

Dr Beatt also informed a coroner and a senior GP of his concerns.

In September 2012 he was sacked for gross misconduct following a six-day disciplinary.

His appeal against his dismissal was rejected by a panel led by John Goulston, Croydon Health Services NHS Trust’s current chief executive.

After a 12-day hearing in 2014, an employment tribunal spent 10 days deliberating in chambers before issuing a 201-page report which concluded his dismissal had been unfair.

Ruling on the case today, Lord Justice Underhill accepted that Dr Beatt had been dismissed for “making protected disclosures” – whistle-blowing.

He told the court: “It comes through very clearly from the papers that the trust regarded Dr Beatt as a troublemaker, who had unreasonably and unfairly taken against colleagues and managers who were doing their best to do their own jobs properly.”

But the tribunal had found that this belief, although “sincere”, was “unreasonable”.

The judge added: “It is all too easy for an employer to allow its view of a whistle-blower [being] a difficult colleague or an awkward personality, as whistle-blowers sometimes are, to cloud its judgement.”

Parliament, the judge said, had “quite deliberately, and for understandable policy reasons, conferred a high level of protection on whistle-blowers”.

The judge, sitting with Sir Terence Etherton and Lady Justice King, concluded: “If there is a moral from this very sad story, which has turned out so badly for the trust as well as for Dr Beatt, it is that employers should proceed to the dismissal of whistle-blowers only where they are as confident as they reasonably can be that the disclosures in question are not protected.”

The sum of Dr Beatt’s compensation will be assessed at a further tribunal hearing unless settlement terms can now be reached.


NHS whistleblower claims she was sacked to protect HIV-infected surgeon

The Sunday Herald  Helen McArdle, Health Correspondent  21 May 2017
Dr Sheena Pinion

Dr Sheena Pinion

A SENIOR hospital consultant claims she was sacked after complaining patients were being put at risk by a surgeon with suspected HIV.

Dr Sheena Pinion was paid £500,000 over four years in “gardening leave” before eventually being fired by NHS Fife after she warned that another medic, named only as Dr X, who had admitted suffering from a dangerous bloodborne infection, was continuing to carry out inappropriate surgeries.

A court has now ruled in her favour after she took the health board to an employment tribunal over unfair dismissal.

Dr Sheena Pinion, 59, said: “All I wanted to do was to protect patients, and I was sacked as a result. I was let go because I was a whistleblower, not because of the trivial reasons they dredged up after my suspension to use against me.

“NHS Fife wanted to cover up what was going on and they have spent an enormous amount of money trying to keep this all quiet.

“They have destroyed me in the process – my reputation and my ability to work has been destroyed by them. I was a good doctor, it was my life, and they bullied me out of there because I tried to protect patients.”

The saga dates back to March 2008 when Dr X – whose identity cannot be revealed – told Dr Pinion and other senior staff that he had contracted a dangerous blood-borne infection, later revealed to be HIV.

After the doctor revealed his condition, NHS Fife immediately recalled a number of patients Dr X had operated on to test them for the disease. Although the results from the patients came back negative, Dr X was asked to stop carrying out exposure-prone operations.

However Dr X continued to carry out some surgeries and Dr Pinion made a formal ‘protected disclosure’ to NHS Fife in 2010.

She said: “Dr X was still carrying out the kind of procedures which can sometimes cause complications needing to be dealt with immediately by doing an operation – which Dr X could not do without the risk of infecting the patient. I felt it was completely unsafe.”

Dr Pinion believes that bosses never investigated her concerns because Dr X had influential friends.

In 2012, she was suspended. NHS Fife cited reasons such as Dr Pinion speaking over a colleague during a video conference and not responding appropriately to management in the hospital.

Dr Pinion was barred from working for two years but still received around £252,000 in salary. NHS Fife officially dismissed her in 2014, ending a 30-year medical career, but continued paying her while she challenged its decision.

In its recently published ruling, the employment tribunal concluded: “We did not consider that the conduct of the claimant should be properly regarded as ‘gross misconduct’ or that a reasonable employer would be acting reasonably in dismissing the claimant in these circumstances.”

However, the tribunal rejected her claim that she had been sacked directly because of her whistleblowing. Dr Pinion is now appealing to overturn that part of the decision.

She said: “People need to know about this – about the fact that whistleblowers are not protected in the NHS. I will probably never practise again, but I will continue fighting to prove what happened.”

A spokesman for NHS Fife declined to comment.

Northumberland Tyne and Wear Trust nurse ‘bullied’ over IT security concerns – tribunal hears

BY       17 MAY 2017 Newcastle Chronicle

Stacey Richardson has taken the Northumberland Tyne and Wear trust to tribunal over the claims

Stacey Richardson raised concerns about IT systems. 
Stacey Richardson raised concerns about IT systems.

A psychiatric nurse turned whistleblower has taken an NHS trust to an employment tribunal over claims she was “bullied” for speaking out about IT system failures.

Stacey Richardson has alleged she was subjected to numerous punishments by the Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW) for raising the alarm about flaws in the IT system.

The mental health nurse raised concerns patients were being put at risk and their confidentiality breached as a result of staff sharing logins when the system was down.

Mrs Richardson claimed the practice was widespread, although the Trust has denied this.

She made a public interest disclosure about the issue and says that she was punished as a result, including being “humiliated” during a meeting with her line manager, having a holiday request refused and being threatened with disciplinary action if she raised any more issues.

Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, in Cramlington, Northumberland
Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, in Cramlington, Northumberland (Photo: Daily Mirror)


The tribunal at North Shields County Court heard Mrs Richardson joined the trust in 2013 as a learning disability nurse.

By the time of the incident in question she was working as a mental health liaison nurse within the A&E department at the newly opened Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, in Cramlington.

The hearing was told Mrs Richardson and another nurse had assessed a patient together during a shift in March 2016.

Towards the end of Mrs Richardson’s shift, the second nurse was unable to login to the system, and Mrs Richardson agreed she could complete the report using her login details when she went home.

The next day Mrs Richardson raised the issue with her line manager, Joanne Sharp.

Mrs Richardson told the tribunal: “I said I was really concerned that I had to allow someone to use my login to complete a report because the IT system had failed.

“I was concerned that a member of staff couldn’t access patient information – that puts the patient at risk because we are not able to assess them properly.

Stacey Richardson of Camperdown
Stacey Richardson of Camperdown (Photo: newcastle chronicle)

“I felt I was being compromised and patient confidentiality was being compromised.”

At a supervision meeting between the two a week later, the hearing was told Miss Sharp locked the door of the room, saying it was because she had been interrupted during an earlier meeting.

Mrs Richardson claimed Mrs Sharp then proceeded to “interrogate” her, “becoming more and more aggressive”, in a meeting she ultimately reported to the police.

When asked why she didn’t just leave the room, Mrs Richardson said: “I felt paralysed and humiliated – I was physically traumatised.

“It was implied that if I raised any more issues I would be going down the disciplinary route.”

Giving evidence at the hearing, Miss Sharp firmly denied subjecting Mrs Richardson to a “tirade”, saying, “It was never my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable.”

Mrs Richardson also claims that she was refused a holiday request and permission to attend a conference as a result of the public interest disclosure.

Yunus Baksh, representing Mrs Richardson, claims she was punished for “being the first employee not to just ‘put up and shut up’ with the faulty IT system”.

But the Trust has categorically denied the allegations, with manager Julie Green saying they “never made a secret” of the issues.

Ms Green confirmed she had made an entry on the risk register in June 2015 saying IT issues for NTW staff working at the new Northumbria hospital were posing “significant challenges”.But she said staff were in a period of transition while moving to the Cramlington hospital and the issues had now been “largely resolved”.                               The hearing is due to last until Wednesday.

The dedicated NHS doctor they tried to gag then destroy: His dream career left in tatters, his family life ruined and his legal bills crippling… after he blew the whistle on a hospital that left its patients in grave danger

  • It was Chris Day’s dream to become a consultant in A&E medicine 
  • But that all changed when Chris reported staffing levels were ‘unsafe’ at night 
  • His concerned phone call left his career in tatters and sparked a legal battle 
  • NHS agencies have accused him of having ‘personal and professional’ issues
  • The Court of Appeal ruled Chirs can finally see an employment tribunal

Chris Day had an unblemished record as a junior doctor. Respected by his senior colleagues, he was used to working hard in often difficult circumstances, regularly putting in long night shifts in the intensive care unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, South East London. It took him away from his wife Melissa, a nurse, and their two young children.

But such was his commitment that Chris, 32, believed it was a small price to pay to follow his dream of becoming a consultant in A&E medicine.

So when, during yet another night shift, Chris made a telephone call to report to the duty manager that he believed overnight staffing levels were unsafe, and that patients with life-threatening conditions may be left ‘dangerously’ at risk, he simply believed he had discharged his duty as a responsible doctor.

Chris believed the long night shifts were a small price to pay for his dream of becoming an consultant in A&E 

Chris believed the long night shifts were a small price to pay for his dream of becoming an consultant in A&E

During his time on the unit, two ICU patients had died at night, in circumstances formally recorded by Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust as serious untoward incidents – meaning the deaths were unexpected or preventable.

Yet unbelievably, that polite phone call left his career in tatters and sparked a two-year legal battle which is estimated to have cost the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds in public funds.

Rather than support his claim, NHS agencies accused him of having ‘personal and professional conduct issues’, removed his right to continue training and used the full weight of the law against him – destroying his promising career.

But in a landmark legal victory last week, the Court of Appeal ruled that Chris is finally allowed to bring his case to an employment tribunal. Not only that, the decision granted all of the country’s 54,000 junior doctors reassurance that they too are protected by whistleblowing laws and should not be victimised for exposing NHS failings.

Yet the win has come at a huge personal cost. ‘This has robbed us, as a family,’ says Chris, speaking for the first time since the ruling. ‘In the time it has taken to change British law for everyone else, in a case which will hopefully improve patient safety by allowing junior doctors to come forward with concerns, my family has paid the price.

Last week the Court of Appeal ruled that Chris is allowed to bring his case to an employment tribunal

Last week the Court of Appeal ruled that Chris is allowed to bring his case to an employment tribunal

‘This has never been about my conduct and my competence – it’s about an understaffed ICU,’ he explains. ‘Yet I’ve stood here for nearly three years arguing the basic point that a junior doctor should be able to openly raise concerns about safety. I think most patients would agree with that principle. Yes, let’s celebrate that victory. But what really scares me is that I won’t be able to clear my name.’

Chris should be well on his way to a full-time consultant post by now. Instead, he has found himself working locum shifts at under-staffed A&E departments after failing to secure more permanent work.

He is also banned from appearing at a junior BMA conference taking place this weekend which focuses, ironically, on safeguarding the future of the NHS. ‘I’m losing my skills,’ he admits. ‘I could never work in an ICU now. I’ve gone backwards in my career. It feels as if the NHS doesn’t want people like me. Junior doctors have been let down by some very powerful people.’

Chris should be nearly a full-time consultant post, but as instead found himself working locum shifts at under-staffed A&E departments 

Chris should be nearly a full-time consultant post, but as instead found himself working locum shifts at under-staffed A&E departments

It is a far cry from his promising start as a young doctor.

Growing up in Kent with two teachers as parents, he was determined to go into medicine and began studying at the prestigious Barts and the London Medical School, part of Queen Mary University of London, in 2003.

He married Melissa, 34, in 2007 and the couple live in a modern terrace house in Thamesmead, South-East London, with their six-year-old son and a daughter who is three.

After being allocated a one-year rotation as part of his training to become an A&E consultant at the Queen Elizabeth, he began having concerns over patient safety.

Almost immediately after starting a stint in intensive care in August 2013, he realised the unit was understaffed at night. Terrifyingly he found himself, with no previous intensive care experience, looking after up to 18 seriously ill patients overnight without on-site ICU supervision.

Chris found himself looking after 18 seriously ill patients when he started his stint in intensive care 

Chris found himself looking after 18 seriously ill patients when he started his stint in intensive care

Guidelines from the Intensive Care Society recommend a doctor-patient ratio of around one to eight.

After discussing his concerns with a consultant, Chris wrote an email to senior management, copying in Health Education England (HEE), the Government agency which oversees the training of junior doctors.

‘The expectations felt unreasonable. This wasn’t my opinion – I based it on the guidelines. There have been manslaughter cases brought against healthcare professionals who make mistakes under pressure.

‘It’s not difficult to see how a situation like that could develop in these circumstances.’

But no changes were made. So in January 2014, when Chris realised two locum doctors had not turned up for the overnight shift, he worried how the remaining staff could cope.

‘It made me think that this was a very dangerous situation indeed and a clear threat to safety.’ Also on his mind were the two deaths. None were directly linked to understaffing, or had happened during his shifts. But it was within this context that Chris decided to ring the duty manager.

The contents of this call will form part of his upcoming legal case, and he has been advised not to discuss it. Chris maintains it was polite, and witnessed by a nurse. He followed it up with an email, thanking the manager for his support.

He did not realise that what he was doing was technically classed as ‘whistleblowing’. While consultants are protected from victimisation as a result of taking such action, because they are employed by a hospital, the situation for junior doctors is legally dubious because they are on fixed-term contracts with hospitals, organised by HEE which, in effect, acts as a third party employment agency.

To Chris, training had seemed a huge success and senior colleagues had reported that his work was ‘not just satisfactory, but excellent’.

Chris wrote an email to senior management about the dangerous under-staffing in wards 

Chris wrote an email to senior management about the dangerous under-staffing in wards

It was only much later that Chris discovered matters were very different behind the scenes. In one email to HEE, an assistant medical director at the Trust revealed he would prefer not to employ him.

Then in June 2014, Chris was called by HEE to his annual appraisal where he again mentioned the understaffing issues. Shockingly, three days later, Chris checked his appraisal document online which showed it had been ‘unsatisfactory’ – on account of ‘personal and professional conduct issues’.

He says: ‘These were career-defining allegations and they were completely false. Suddenly I began to put the pieces together.

‘Was this related to my ICU concerns, or that phone call? It really has been up to HEE to provide another explanation, which they so far haven’t been able to do.’

In another devastating blow, the HEE also deleted Chris’s doctor training number over the ongoing row, which meant he could no longer continue training. It means, although he can work for the NHS, he cannot progress to become a consultant.

‘I went from being very confident that it would all go away, to feeling like the whole system was corrupt and my career was about to go down the toilet.’

The NHS accused Chris of ‘personal and professional conduct issues’

Chris brought his concerns before an employment tribunal in February 2015. However, the case was thrown out when HEE successfully argued that whistleblowing laws did not apply to them.

But in fighting the treatment he received Chris had inadvertently exposed an even greater scandal: that no junior doctor was protected by whistleblowing laws. Perhaps even more troubling, the Government was effectively content for that to be the case. It was an outcome which raised concerns over the safety of all NHS patients.

Then in August 2015 an appeal was granted after a judge determined there was a ‘lacuna’ – a gap – in the whistleblowing laws for junior doctors.

At one point, four law firms for NHS agencies – including solicitors for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt – were involved.

Chris says: ‘It became like a pathetic family feud. Ironically, this came weeks after Sir Robert Francis published his report on whistleblowing in the NHS, which found staff were deterred from speaking up and faced serious consequences for doing so.

‘Instead of defending themselves on the facts of my case, they used taxpayer money to essentially argue me and every other junior doctor out of statutory whistleblowing protection. How is that an effective use of public money if it makes the NHS less safe?’

So what began with a bid to resurrect his career turned into a mammoth legal battle. With a young family to support, Chris turned to crowdfunding, raising more than £140,000 from thousands of donors – including junior doctors – to fund a legal challenge, first in the Employment Appeals Tribunal, which failed, and then in the Court of Appeal. The case was also supported by the charity Public Concern At Work.

In February 2016, two days before one hearing, Chris claims HEE threatened his team with a costs application order for £24,084.50.

‘Imagine the effect that would have had on a young family’s financial security. They did it to try to get us to back down.’

But it was not a deterrent. On May 5, judges ruled the HEE’s arguments against junior doctors having whistleblowing protection were ‘legally flawed’ and concluded HEE could be considered an employer. It means his case in the employment tribunal can finally be heard in the next few weeks. Chris’s lawyer, Tim Johnson, from Tim Johnson Law, said: ‘The impact on Chris and his family shouldn’t be underestimated. He has had to work incredibly hard to achieve this result. What I hear from junior doctors is that many of them see Chris as fighting the management of the health service on their behalf – better than other institutions such as the BMA.’

At one point four law firms for NHS agencies – including solicitors for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt - were involved with Chris' case 

At one point four law firms for NHS agencies – including solicitors for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt – were involved with Chris’ case

Today he still wants to work for the NHS but he is not optimistic about the future. His cynicism seems well-grounded. No doctor sacked after exposing NHS failings has ever been given their job back at the same level, and many find themselves ‘blacklisted’ even after being cleared by tribunals.

Chris says: ‘I might look like some sort of activist but I’ve turned into this person for my family. I never had a Facebook or Twitter account before; now I have a huge number of followers. But it’s never who I wanted to be.’

Thanks to Chris, the Trust has now increased the number of doctors on ICU to national standards. It has also accepted he did, in fact, make a ‘protected disclosure’ – in other words, he blew the whistle in a way that was protected by law. In a further statement, it said it ‘could not comment further while legal proceedings are ongoing’.

HEE also said in a statement that it ‘welcomed’ the Court of Appeal decision and that it had ‘agreed changes with the BMA to extend rights to trainees in this area’.

It added: ‘We did not act to cause detriment to Dr Day as a result of him raising concerns.’

But the delay in resolving the issue has already had an impact on patient safety, according to the doctors’ regulator, the General Medical Council. It believes the case has discouraged other junior doctors from speaking out.

And there is still the real fear for Chris that his own career may already be over. ‘This case has often felt like it has been to everyone else’s benefit but mine,’ he says. ‘Despite everything, a full hearing still isn’t guaranteed and I might never get justice.

‘Whistleblowing comes at a huge personal cost. Fortunately, it hasn’t crippled us. And that’s because of the strength of my marriage. If Mel wasn’t a nurse and understood what we had to do, who knows what may have happened.

‘I’ve got the glory, but it’s as much her victory as mine.’


Court of Appeal backs greater protection for whistleblowing junior doctors

Penningtons Manches LLP
Andrew Clayton
United Kingdom May 9 2017

Three judges sitting in the Court of Appeal have called for the law to be interpreted to maximise protection for junior doctors after hearing an appeal against two employment tribunal rulings. The case centres on Dr Chris Day, who worked as a specialist registrar in emergency medicine at a hospital in South London run by Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust. The level of staffing was so low at times that he raised concerns that he was being made to cover extra wards, including A&E, when there were insufficient doctors.

He had been working under a one-year contract at the trust, but when that contract came to an end, he found that he was unable to find permanent employment. He argued that Health Education England (HEE), which arranges junior doctors’ training contracts, failed to protect him as a whistleblower under employment law. In effect, this was destroying his career, preventing him finding work.

The case came before two separate employment tribunals, both of which rejected Dr Day’s claim that he was entitled to protection from HEE under whistleblowing legislation. Instead, they found that HEE was not Dr Day’s employer, so owing him no such duty, and that Parliament had deliberately excluded junior doctors’ relationship with HEE from whistleblowing protection.

Dr Day appealed those decisions and now the Court of Appeal has challenged the employment tribunal rulings, calling for employment law to be interpreted to maximise protection for junior doctors in the NHS. The case must now go back to another employment tribunal to be re-heard. That tribunal will have to decide whether the degree of control HEE has over Dr Day’s working terms and conditions is such that HEE must comply with an employer’s duties under the whistleblowing regulations.

Andrew Clayton of Penningtons Manches’ clinical negligence team comments: “This Court of Appeal decision has wide-ranging implications for patient safety and NHS culture. It comes as press reports highlight an average of 1,400 hospital mistakes every week by maternity staff alone. The effects of NHS errors on patients and their families can be devastating.

“There is widespread criticism of the costs to the NHS where negligent care causes life-changing damage to patients, yet still the same errors are repeated. If the cost of negligent care is to fall, so that resources can be better targeted on delivering safe care, the NHS needs a massive culture shift. It needs to embrace and learn from its mistakes to change clinical practices and improve patient safety. It should be lauding those like Dr Day who raise legitimate concerns about unsafe practices.”

Top doctor unfairly sacked from Addenbrooke’s dedicates lifetime achievement award to ‘all sacked NHS whistleblowers’

Cambridge News  BY FREYA LENG 31 MAR 2017

Professor Narinder Kapur has won a lifetime achievement award

An eminent brain doctor who was unfairly sacked from Addenbrooke’s after raising serious concerns about patient safety and care at the hospital is to be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Professor Narinder Kapur, took Cambridge University Hospitals to an employment tribunal in March 2012 after claiming unfair dismissal in 2010.

As previously reported, the tribunal heard Prof Kapur was fired as a consultant neuropsychologist at Addenbrooke’s without “a single explanation” after repeatedly raising concerns with bosses that under-qualified staff were left unsupervised to treat patients.

He also claimed that after raising concerns about the dangers to patients of using unqualified staff with inadequate supervision and staff shortages generally, he suffered significant detriments including having his work computer hacked into, and the relationship with his line manager seriously broke down.

Hospital bosses claimed he was dismissed because of the breakdown in relations with his line manager and that Prof Kapur was aggressive and refused to attend meetings without a lawyer present, which he had asked the hospital to pay for.

Dr Narinder Kapur, outside the Department of Health in London in October 2012 when he staged a 5-day hunger-strike (Photo: SWNS)


Despite the tribunal ruling he had been unfairly dismissed in July 2012, the award-winning doctor was not reinstated.

Since then, the 67-year-old has gone on to campaign for reform of the NHS disciplinary system and now has been recognised by his professional body, the British Psychological Society (BPS) with a lifetime achievement award.

Prof Kapur, who lives in Harrow and is Visiting Professor of Neuropsychology at UCL and is also Consultant Neuropsychologist at Imperial College NHS Trust, is repeating his call for the Department of Health to carry out a major review of NHS disciplinary procedures which he believes to be “deeply and dangerously flawed”.

“I would like to dedicate this award to all sacked NHS whistleblowers, who have had the courage to stand up and speak out – and particularly those of Black and Minority Ethnic origin who sadly face worse victimisation in the workplace when they raise concerns than their white counterparts, due to factors such as conscious or unconscious bias,” he said.

“This award will encourage me to continue my current projects and campaigns, in particular those focused on improving patient safety by improving NHS management.”

Dr Narinder Kapur, outside the Department of Health in London in 2012 (Photo: SWNS)


In October 2012, Prof Kapur staged a five-day hunger-strike outside the Department of Health in Westminster to protest against the unfair treatment of NHS whistleblower.

In a statement ,the British Psychological Society praised Dr Kapur’s academic work on the psychology of patient safety, NHS management, unconscious bias and clinical excellence.
Its President, Professor Peter Kinderman, said: “Professor Kapur is an outstanding example of the contribution psychologists can make to health care and to society and I am proud that he is a leading member of my profession.”


Surgeon: ‘How many more children like Kayden must die?’

By Sarah Bloch-Budzier 30 March 2017


Kayden’s grandmother: “I wanted to strangle somebody”

Senior surgeons say they tried to warn managers of dangerous delays to emergency surgery ahead of a child’s death at a top children’s hospital.

Kayden Bancroft was 20 months old when he died at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital (RMCH), following repeated delays to urgent surgery.

Whistleblowers allege the trust’s focus was on “ballooning” waiting lists rather than emergency care.

The hospital admitted that failings occasionally occurred.

Central Manchester University Hospitals Trust said: “Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital faces huge demands for its services and occasionally failings regrettably do occur.”

Kayden’s grandmother, Julie Rowlands, has spoken of her shock at the way he was treated.

She said: “His care was appalling. He was basically put in a room, and left.

“And all we got, nearly every day, was, ‘He’s not having the operation today, he’s not having the operation today.’ They were coming up with excuses, ‘There’s no bed, or a car crash victim’s come in.’

“That’s all we got, all the time we were there, was excuses.”

One surgeon, Basem Khalil, told the BBC: “We just worry how many more children must die before management is held to account and before the right changes are made.”

Kayden was brought into Stepping Hill Hospital on 11 April last year, a Monday, after falling and banging his mouth on his bottle.

Staff discovered that he had a hole in his diaphragm, causing his bowel to enter his chest.

Staff requested a transfer to RMCH for an operation to repair Kayden’s diaphragm, but no intensive care bed was available.

The following day, he was transferred, but to an ordinary ward.

Kayden’s surgery was repeatedly delayed over the following week, as he deteriorated.

On Thursday, 14 April, the BBC was told, a locum consultant requested that a planned elective surgery list be cancelled to allow him to carry out the operation, but management instructed an operational manager “not to get involved”.

The trust told the BBC that it had no record of this request.

Brain injury

Late on Friday night, Kayden went into cardiac arrest.

Nurses struggled to get help, because an emergency phone line was down, and it took nearly 30 minutes to resuscitate the child.

He suffered severe brain injury and died two days later.

The trust’s own investigation found “significant problems with the organisation and delivery of [Kayden’s] care, which was not timely and resulted in his death”.

Kayden Bancroft was 20 months old when he died at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital

Senior surgeons at the hospital told the BBC that they had repeatedly tried to warn trust management about problems, including a shortage of emergency operating theatres and intensive care beds at the hospital.

But the trust told the BBC: “We believe that there are sufficient theatres in our children’s hospital to cope with the demand for emergency cases; however, on occasions some children do have to wait for urgent surgery while emergency surgery takes place.”

Mr Khalil said: “On Thursday, one of the surgeons had offered to cancel one of his elective lists, so that he could do Kayden as an emergency, but did not receive the support that he needed.

“That should not have happened.

“There should have been support to say if we have children on the emergency list, they need to be done, and they should take priority over elective lists.”

Mr Khalil added that the size of the hospital’s waiting lists had become dangerous.

Long waits

The BBC has seen internal figures to show that on 18 January this year, the number of children waiting for a procedure had reached 6,185, with 1,102 children having waited for over a year.

Mr Khalil said: “The waiting list in the children’s hospital has basically ballooned over the last few years.

“We now have hundreds of children who have waited over a year to have their surgery done.

“They were giving elective cases priority, but it almost became like a culture, that it is difficult to cancel elective cases to do emergency cases.”

Basem Khalil
Mr Khalil warned of “ballooning” waiting lists

A second surgeon, James Morecroft, who retired from RMCH this year, told the BBC: “There was a desire in the hospital to do the elective workload, perhaps at the expense of some of the emergency stuff.”

The trust said: “The trust would like to make it clear that at no time has it directed clinical staff to prioritise elective over non-elective care.

“As is the case at most similar hospitals, elective cases are regularly cancelled to  accommodate emergency patients.”

However the trust’s own investigation into Kayden’s death recommended the hospital carry out an urgent review into “prioritising non-electives above elective cases”.

It added: “Following the investigation, a number of immediate and longer term actions were agreed.”

Lawyer Stephen Clarkson, from Slater and Gordon, who represented the family, said: “The real tragedy here is that Kayden’s death was entirely preventable.

“If he had been operated on earlier, then he would have survived.

“It is deeply concerning that this happened at one of the country’s leading hospitals for children, and that is why it is so important that the trust looks closely at what went wrong and what can be done to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else’s child.”

PATIENT SAFETY? Poem from NHS whistleblower (Anon)


I can still remember

The Human Being that was me

I loved life, and was happy

Just to be


Lucky was I, to have work that was a passion

Not something I thought of as a passing fashion

I had a past, was in the present and had a future to cheer

Then I found myself in a culture of fear

Staff so afraid to speak out here


As a HR Director I knew what to do!

Despite the reality, they would then persecute you

I took a deep breath telling myself I was strong

And how prioritising human life would not be perceived wrong


The experience was then and was sadly for so many

Is they will ensure you are left without a penny

They will torment, torture and bully you as well

They will not even stop when you are in a living hell


Where do you then go to get help on the way?

It’s an employment problem, they will all say!

The choice is then to take money you are told

For that your silence you will have to hold


The question is then, what is the price?

What is the amount to justify the human sacrifice?

There was not an amount was for the answer for me

Going back to the human being I wanted to be.


Therefore the attacks still continue, even to this day!

I cannot forsee a day they will go away

I try and I try for my girls to sustain

But the reality is, it is unbearable pain


The people that could help or intervene

Do nothing so you are left, feeling your life has no mean

With that in mind there is never a high

And you end up not caring whether you live or die


I want to stand strong and I claim all is alright

But I am unable to stand on my own and question the fight


Physical pain is not the worst for a human to survive

They know that humiliation, and dignity to deprive

Casting you out from the flock is truly a shock

And is akin and the same too burying a person alive!

Whistleblowers ‘to be protected’ if they apply for NHS job

  • 20 March 2017  BBC News Health

    Hospital room

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said staff who speak up should be listened to

NHS whistleblowers could be protected against discrimination if they apply to work for the health service again.

Government plans would give applicants a right to complain to an employment tribunal if they believed they had suffered discrimination.

Jeremy Hunt said he wanted to create “a culture of openness” where staff feel they can speak up about patient safety.

Barrister Sir Robert Francis recommended the measure after a public inquiry into Stafford Hospital deaths.

Protecting NHS whistleblowers was a key recommendation from the inquiry into the scandal, which resulted in the trust that ran Stafford Hospital being fined £500,000 for “basic” blunders linked to the deaths of four patients.

‘Listened to, not vilified’

Sir Robert, the inquiry chairman, warned that staff often faced bullying and isolation if they tried to speak out and that staff struggled to find new jobs in the NHS.

Under the UK-wide plans, applicants for an NHS job would have the right to complain to an employment tribunal if they had been discriminated against because they had previously raised concerns about the safety of patients.

Applicants would also have the right to bring a claim in court in order to prevent discriminatory conduct.

And the draft guidelines, which are out for consultation, say that discrimination of an applicant by an NHS worker should be treated like discrimination by the NHS body itself.

Health Secretary Mr Hunt said: “Today we move another step closer to creating a culture of openness in the NHS, where people who have the courage to speak up about patient safety concerns are listened to, not vilified.”

He said the changes would ensure “staff feel they are protected with the law on their side”.

‘Deeper cultural problem’

There has been a growing focus on patient safety since Sir Robert’s inquiry in 2013.

One of the main findings of that report was that people within the NHS had known about the poor levels of care at the hospital, but did not raise the alarm.

Since then, a number of initiatives have been launched to improve safety.

In 2015, the government introduced plans to appoint guardians to support staff who wanted to speak up about concerns over patient safety.

Peter Walsh, chief executive of Action against Medical Accidents, said the plans were modest, but a “welcome move in the right direction”.

“It is clearly unfair that staff who have been forced to become ‘whistleblowers’ should be discriminated against when they seek alternative jobs.

“However, this is a symptom of a much deeper cultural problem in the NHS which will not be solved with tinkering with rules here and there.

“So far we have not seen a joined-up approach to supporting and protecting staff from unfair treatment when they try to do the right thing and end up having to be whistleblowers.”

Mr Walsh said many NHS trusts had still not appointed guardians, as recommended by the Stafford Hospital inquiry.

The current consultation is open for eight weeks and will close on 12 May.

Whistleblowers out in cold: Struggling to find work, isolated and shunned, the terrible price medics sacked for exposing NHS failures are STILL paying

  • No doctors sacked for exposing care scandals have been given jobs back
  • Jeremy Hunt accused of failing to act on landmark whistleblowing report
  • Hospital staff have said punishments for speaking out are ‘Kafkaesque’
  • Tory MP pointed to ‘evidence that whistleblowers are not being protected’

No doctors sacked for exposing care scandals have been given their jobs back at the same level, it emerged yesterday.

Senior medical figures accused Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt of failing to act on a landmark report into NHS whistleblowing.

In a dramatic intervention, 14 medics and campaigners wrote to a national newspaper saying there had been ‘no meaningful change’ a year on.

‘To our knowledge, not a single sacked whistleblower has been found comparable reemployment,’ they claimed.

Referring to the hounding of doctors and nurses by hospital managers, they added: ‘Not a single trust director has been reprimanded under the fit and proper persons regulation.’

Senior medical figures accused Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt of failing to act on a landmark report into NHS whistleblowing

Senior medical figures accused Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt of failing to act on a landmark report into NHS whistleblowing

Hospital staff say the punishments for speaking out are Kafkaesque – and make them feel as if they are living behind the Iron Curtain.

Andrew Percy, a Tory member of the Commons health committee, called for a parliamentary inquiry. ‘There is a lot of evidence that whistleblowers are not being protected, that many staff in the NHS are being intimidated or are fearful of coming forward,’ he said.

‘This is totally unacceptable and is evidence of why our committee needs to look at this again. The Department of Health needs to be cognisant of the concerns on this.’

Sir Robert Francis compiled last year’s report warning of a culture of ‘fear, bullying and ostracisation’ within the NHS that punished doctors and nurses who dared speak out.


WORKED: Consultant psychiatrist with Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, a mental health service provider, from 2007 to 2013.

BLEW WHISTLE ON: How instances of patient harm, including suicides and deaths in custody, homicides, rape and arson were sometimes not reported through the appropriate channels.

CONSEQUENCE: Took redundancy by ‘mutual agreement’. Told British Medical Association she thought it was going to be the end of her career.

EFFECT ON NHS CAREER: Has not applied for more NHS work over fears she has effectively been blacklisted.

SHE SAYS: ‘The suppression of staff… will not go away until decision-makers truly accept it is better to run a service in which staff and patients have a voice. Otherwise, the unhealthy culture, financial and human cost will continue… My decision to report concerns… did not make me popular.’


WORKED: Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

BLEW WHISTLE ON: ‘Unnecessary’ fatalities among children who had had surgery. 

What he felt was a bullying culture in theatres with staff afraid to raise concerns, and lessons from errors not being learned.

CONSEQUENCE: Faced opposition from senior colleagues and, he believes, the trust itself. 

Left the hospital. Marriage broke down due to the stress.

EFFECT ON NHS CAREER: Has applied for NHS jobs and not been shortlisted. 

Fears he has been blacklisted as a troublemaking whistleblower. 

Now working in academic research in Melbourne, Australia.

HE SAYS: ‘It took a great deal for me to become a whistleblower. 

It was not a step I took lightly. The whole experience has been utterly administrating.’

It told how whistleblowers were too often derided as ‘snitches, troublemakers and backstabbers’.

Sir Robert, a barrister who chaired two major inquiries into the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal, said many were unable to find work because of an ‘effective blacklist’.

The Government promised to enforce all his 20 recommendations, which were aimed at changing NHS culture to protect whistleblowers from reprisals. One measure was to ensure all trusts appointed a guardian to deal with concerns from health workers. But in the letter to The Times yesterday the guardians were described as toothless – often simply establishment candidates appointed by trust bosses.

And the signatories pointed out that the national guardian, Dame Eileen Sills, has a restricted remit with no real powers in law. Appointed in January, she is also part-time, covering just two days a week.

The letter was organised by Professor Sir Brian Jarman, the former BMA president who did pioneering work on hospital mortality rates.

It was signed by seven NHS whistleblowers, including Dr Stephen Bolsin, who highlighted death rates at Bristol Royal Infirmary and Dr Kim Holt, who lifted the lid on safety concerns at Great Ormond Street.

The signatories demanded the establishment of an independent body with ‘powers to investigate and remedy poor whistleblowing governance by public bodies’.


WORKED: Heart surgeon at Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry.

BLEW WHISTLE ON: In 2001, exposed the fact two patients had died in dangerously overcrowded bays where staff had difficulty reaching life-saving equipment.

CONSEQUENCE: A year later, suspended on full pay for seven years after being accused of bullying. Dismissed in 2010.

EFFECT ON NHS CAREER: Claims he was unable to return to old job and experienced increasing hostility from trust managers. Health deteriorated. Sacked while in his hospital bed. Won £1.22million damages after employment tribunal.

HE SAYS: ‘The way I have been treated is nothing short of an outrage and a scandal … trust managers tried to destroy me. It was a form of torture.’


WORKED: Chief executive at the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

BLEW WHISTLE ON: Concerns targets were a higher priority than patient safety.

CONSEQUENCE: Sacked and forced to sign £500,000 gagging contract. Broke silence with Daily Mail to hold individuals to account over Mid-Staffs scandal.

EFFECT ON NHS CAREER: Applied for around 150 jobs in NHS in England. Shortlisted for only two in five years. Now working for a health regulator in Northern Ireland.

HE SAYS: ‘Nothing has changed. We have more whistleblowers than ever on the unemployment lines and not one of them has been re-instated in their job. I would never advise anyone to whistleblow, unless they can do it anonymously.’

They called for a new appeal mechanism against ineffective local investigations by employers, full reform of whistleblower protection legislation and reform of NHS disciplinary processes.

Health minister Ben Gummer insisted good progress was being made on making the NHS safe for whistleblowers, and that all hospitals had been told to take action to support those who spoke out.

But yesterday one of the signatories, Professor Narinder Kapur, who was sacked after he raised safety concerns at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, told the Mail he had struggled to find work afterward and felt he was blacklisted.

The neuropsychologist is now working three days a week as a locum in Leeds, hundreds of miles from his family home in Harrow, north-west London. He said: ‘It’s the only job I could get.

‘The only way that NHS trusts will take back whistleblowers is if their willingness to do so is part of their appraisal by the health regulator.

‘Whistleblowers lose their jobs and their incomes, their physical and mental wellbeing suffers and their family life is ruined.


WORKED: Cardiologist at Croydon University Hospital.

BLEW WHISTLE ON: Told an inquest in 2013 he was forced to carry out part of a heart operation without nursing assistance, which contributed to the patient’s death. 

Concerns over inadequate equipment, bullying and harassment of junior employees, removal of key staff, a lack of competent nurses and the failure to properly investigate serious incidents.

CONSEQUENCE: Suspended shortly after the inquest and then dismissed.

EFFECT ON NHS CAREER: Won unfair dismissal case but finds it impossible to get an NHS job.

HE SAYS: ‘I’ve applied… but never got shortlisted. 

‘It’s akin to being in an Eastern Bloc country in the Cold War years.’


WORKED: Anaesthetist at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

BLEW WHISTLE ON: Reported concerns about infant deaths at the hospital in 1990. Bosses were dismissive and Dr Bolsin began to count the number of children dying, which showed the death rate was twice the national average. The next year, heart operations at the hospital were stopped. The cardiac unit was dubbed the ‘killing fields’.

CONSEQUENCE: He initially continued working in the NHS but felt ostracised and was passed over for private work.

EFFECT ON NHS CAREER: Dr Bolsin and his wife moved to Melbourne, Australia, where he has practised ever since.

HE SAYS: ‘In the end I just couldn’t go on putting those children to sleep, with their parents present in the anaesthetic room, knowing that it was almost certain to be the last time they would see their sons or daughters alive.’

‘It’s like getting four life sentences for standing up and doing the right thing.’Another whistleblower, Gary Walker, who was sacked as an NHS trust chief executive after he raised concerns that hitting targets was a higher priority than patient safety, told the Mail he had applied for around 150 NHS jobs and was shortlisted only for two.

He said: ‘The NHS has such a culture of command and control that it can’t cope with anyone speaking out. It’s a terribly bullying culture and that has not changed. If anything it has got worse.

‘We have more whistleblowers than ever on the unemployment lines and not one of them has been reinstated in their job. I would never advise anyone to whistleblow, unless they can do it anonymously.’

A retired police inspector brought in to investigate allegations of misconduct against a whistleblower at one NHS trust told how he was himself sacked after raising concerns that the accusations were unfounded.

The former officer said: ‘I was expected to be the assassin. I had had a distinguished career and had retired from the police with unblemished character. ‘The trust’s own policy said that such investigations had to be completed fairly but I would say the allegations were unfounded.’


WORKED: Consultant radiologist at Barts and the London.

BLEW WHISTLE ON: X-ray files and scans belonging to thousands of patients were dumped unchecked in boxes.

CONSEQUENCE: Dismissed in 2006 after trust management carried out a ‘clipboard exercise’ to quiz his colleagues for any other instance of possible misconduct. Branded a ‘troublemaker’.

EFFECT ON NHS CAREER: Was offered work at another hospital – until his old trust got in touch with its executives. Now back in the NHS, working part-time at the Royal Free and Whittington hospitals in London.

HE SAYS: ‘It’s almost impossible to get future employment in the NHS if you’re dismissed. Chief executives of different trusts stick together.’


WORKED: Neuropsychologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

BLEW WHISTLE ON: The use of under-qualified staff in clinics, which he warned was putting patients at risk.

CONSEQUENCE: Sacked in 2010. A tribunal ruled he was unfairly dismissed but he was not reinstated.

EFFECT ON NHS CAREER: Professor Kapur said he was effectively blacklisted as a ‘trouble-maker’. He is now working three days a week as a locum in Leeds, hundreds of miles from his family in North London.

HE SAYS: ‘Whistleblowers lose their jobs and their incomes, their physical and mental wellbeing suffers and their family life is ruined. 

It’s like getting four life sentences for standing up and doing the right thing.’

He said that when he reported concerns about the investigation into the whistleblower, he was initially ignored then ‘I became the whistleblower, I became the problem’. Following his dismissal he received an out of court settlement after launching his own unfair dismissal proceedings.

Only last week, Dr Raj Mattu was granted £1.2million in damages after a tribunal found he had been wrongly dismissed for exposing the deaths of two patients in dangerously overcrowded bays at his hospital.

He was hounded for over a decade in a ‘witch-hunt’ costing the taxpayer more than £10million. He has since been unable to get a job in the NHS.

He told the Mail: ‘This letter should be a very serious warning to the chiefs of the healthcare system in England, that despite many soundbites and promises of protecting patients and then whistleblowers, there has been no palpable change since the Francis report.

‘I would strongly caution anybody who is thinking of whistleblowing from doing so.

‘I would want to protect them and their families from enduring the nightmare that I have had to live with for 15 years, and their lives and careers being ruined.’

And Dr Minh Alexander, forced out after she exposed suicides at a mental health trust in Cambridgeshire, said: ‘The suppression of staff who speak up is a very old problem and will not go away until decision makers truly accept that it is better to run a service in which staff and patients have a voice.’


WORKED: Consultant paediatrician at St Ann’s Clinic in Tottenham, North London.

BLEW WHISTLE ON: Was one of four doctors who warned that understaffing and poor record-keeping posed a serious risk to patient safety in 2006.

CONSEQUENCE: The warning was ignored and Dr Holt faced bullying then suffered depression and went on leave.

EFFECT ON NHS CAREER: Dr Holt says she was offered £120,000 to sign a confidentiality contract but refused. She was eventually allowed back to work after her clinic was transferred to a different NHS trust. She received a formal apology from her former trust.

SHE SAYS: ‘The whole culture towards whistleblowers is pretty toxic. It’s a miracle that I’m back in my job.’


WORKED: Chief pharmacist for Berkshire Primary Care Trust.

BLEW WHISTLE ON: Patient safety concerns about prescriptions, made in protected evidence which cannot be disclosed.

CONSEQUENCE: Suspended and dismissed after numerous allegations were made unrelated to Lady Yassaie’s work. Launched employment tribunal proceedings but received an out-of-court settlement before the case was heard.

EFFECT ON NHS CAREER: Lady Yassaie lost another NHS job in 2014 after, she believes, management found out about her earlier case.

SHE SAYS: ‘There is nothing to protect whistleblowers at all. 

None of my concerns have ever been looked into properly.’

Justin Madders, Labour’s health spokesman, said: ‘Jeremy Hunt cannot dismiss these concerns any longer and needs to start taking whistleblowers’ rights seriously. Unfortunately, reports of bullying and harassment in the NHS are still too commonplace.’

A spokesman for the Department of Health said some cases against managers under the Francis rules were ongoing with none declared unfit yet.

She said no figures were kept on the jobs of whistleblowers.


How can I ever work again after the trauma of whistleblowing?

The Guardian Money Dear Jeremy  17 March 2017

I felt I had no choice but to expose fraud at work, but was bullied and ignored. Now I have lost all hope in work

‘I am scared to be employed again, and have been working from home and living off of my savings.’
‘I am scared to be employed again, and have been working from home and living off of my savings.’ Photograph: Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images

Twice a week we publish problems that will feature in a forthcoming Dear Jeremy advice column in the Saturday Guardian so that readers can offer their own advice and suggestions. We then print the best of your comments alongside Jeremy’s own insights.

Six years ago I was a whistleblower at my workplace. I worked there for three years, but from my first day I noticed daily cover-ups, misuse of position and daily cash fraud.

This was my dream job, at a firm I had looked up to. I was shocked to see what was happening and, for a long time, blamed myself for being too sensitive and thought I was just being paranoid.

At one point the fraud became so serious, and the cover-up so intricate, that I was left with no choice but to report it internally.

I was 100% sure they would find out, correct the situation and give out warnings, and we would move on. But my first report was not taken seriously: they checked out the paperwork I mentioned but overlooked the obvious fraud. They simply dismissed any claims, and the case was closed.

Nothing changed and I decided I would quit as soon as I could. When I made that decision I also decided to become a whistleblower. I thought I had nothing more to lose.

I was very wrong. During the whole whistleblowing experience, I was bullied, snubbed by management as a disgruntled employee and accused of being a “disrespectful colleague”.

I have lost all my hope in humanity. I know it sounds severe, but I really feel this way. I am scared to be employed again, and have been working from home and living off my savings.

How will I ever gain any confidence in the world or in any company? The people I looked up to, those whom I had aspired to be like, have let me down beyond belief. I am a traumatised human who had no other choice but become a whistleblower.

Do you need advice on a work issue? For Jeremy’s and readers’ help, send a brief email to Please note that he is unable to answer questions of a legal nature or to reply personally.

Greedy NHS chief earning £200,000 a year defrauded her own Trust by paying husband’s graphic design firm £11,000 for work he never completed

  • Paula Vasco-Knight, 53, is let off from fraud charge with a suspended sentence
  • She dramatically collapsed today during sentencing at Exeter Crown Court 
  • Vasco-Knight was an NHS executive earning £170,000 a year
  • But she ‘abused’ her position by signing off thousands to her husband’s company
  • A judge described her fall from grace as ‘monumental’  
Paula Vasco-Knight, 53, was given a suspended jail sentence at Exeter Crown Court after admitting one charge of fraud 

Paula Vasco-Knight, 53, was given a suspended jail sentence at Exeter Crown Court after admitting one charge of fraud

An NHS chief executive earning £200,000 a year defrauded her own Trust by paying her husband’s graphic design firm £11,000 for work he never completed.

Paula Vasco-Knight, 53, was spared prison today but dramatically collapsed outside court after a judge slammed her ‘monumental fall from grace’.

She gave public money from her £200,000 budget to a company her husband Stephen ran from a garden shed.

The former chief executive was given a 16-month suspended jail sentence and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.

Her husband received 10 months’ imprisonment, also suspended for two years, and 150 hours of unpaid work.

Vasco-Knight was described during the trial as ‘dishonest in the extreme’ when she siphoned off the payments without telling colleagues that graphic designer ‘Steve’ was in fact her husband Stephen.

He was paid £9,000 to design one newsletter and £11,072 to knock up a 200-page document on leadership called ‘Transform’ – described as a ‘complete sham’ because it never existed.

Prosecuting, Gareth Evans told the court the couple initially denied any wrongdoing and claimed the 200-page publication was highly valuable.

The court heard that when interviewed by police, both defendants handed over a hardcopy of the document.

Mr Evans said: ‘Paula Vasco-Knight said to officers, “Please take care of it”, implying an importance and value on the document.’

‘It’s clear it’s a complete fraud,’ he added.

The judge said he seldom saw offenders 'so utterly devastated by the enormity of what you so stupidly did' 

The judge said he seldom saw offenders ‘so utterly devastated by the enormity of what you so stupidly did’

The document was found to contain empty pages and text lifted from other sources.

The couple, from Runcorn in Cheshire, kept up the pretense of being not guilty until they dramatically changed their plea on day two of the trial.

Vasco-Knight shook and sobbed uncontrollably as she changed her plea at last minute to one of the two charges of fraud. Her husband also admitted fraud.

Vasco-Knight admitted abusing her position as CEO at the hospital by authorising the £11,072 payment to her husband.

Before she collapsed in court, a judge said that Vasco-Knight’s condition remained ‘frail.’

Speaking at Exeter Crown Court today as he delivered their sentence, the judge said: ‘This is a monumental fall from grace and I seldom see offenders so utterly devastated by the enormity of what you so stupidly did.

‘Paula Vasco-Knight as as chief executive officer at the South Devon NHS Trust, one can hardly imagine a more serious abuse of trust and responsibility on your part.

‘You were on a six-figure salary. In arranging for your husband to secure this contract between you, you obtained just over £11,000 of the public’s money.

‘Money from an NHS budget which we all know is under the severest pressure for resources.’

Exeter Crown Court heard that Vasco-Knight, who also held a position at the national lead for equalities, rose through the ranks, becoming the NHS’s first ever black chief executive.

Paula Vasco-Knight (left) pictured leaving the court with her husband and brother (centre, right) during the two-week trial held in Exeter Guilty: Vasco-Knight's husband Stephen also pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and was spared jail but ordered to do 150 hours of community service 

Paula Vasco-Knight (left) pictured leaving the court with her husband and brother (centre, right) during the two-week trial held in Exeter

She earned £170,000 a year as the chief executive of Torbay Hospital and an additional £27,000 for a one-day-a-week position as an equality advisor.

But it emerged Vasco-Knight had failed to declare an interest in her husband’s company, Thinking Caps, which he solely ran from their garden shed.

His company was assigned to make the booklet which was described by the prosecution as ‘nothing more than a notepad’.

She admitted abusing her position as CEO at the trust by authorising the £11,072 payment to her husband for the document.

Her husband also pleaded guilty to fraud by submitting a false invoice to the trust for the Transform document in November 2013.

Defending Stephen Vasco-Knight, Brendan Carville said: ’12 years ago Mr Vasco-Knight was a happily married man. His wife had cancer and she suddenly died. He became the sole carer for his three-year-old child.

‘They married and were a successful team.’

He also described his client as a ‘very, very good’ graphic designer.

He added that both Mr and Mrs Vasco-knight didn’t ‘deserve’ to go to prison..

Defending Paula Vasco-Knight, Llyod Morgan, said: ‘Mrs Vasco-Knight started in very humble beginnings. She qualified as a nurse and worked many, many years as a nurse.

Exeter Crown Court where Vasco-Knight  Vasco-Knight sobbed as she admitted to carrying out the fraud on the second day of the trial 

Exeter Crown Court where Vasco-Knight Vasco-Knight sobbed as she admitted to carrying out the fraud on the second day of the trial

He said: ‘She continued to work as a nurse, such was her dedication to the welfare of the patients in the trust.’

‘She reached dizzying heights more than she ever expected but has had a fall of an even greater magnitude.’

He added: ‘She bitterly regrets it and she will regret it for the rest of her life.’

Vasco-Knight was the chief executive of South Devon NHS Foundation Trust until her resignation in 2014.

She also worked for one day a week as the NHS’s head of equality and diversity, where she had control of a £200,000 annual budget.

Her fall from grace began in 2015 when whistleblowers accused her of selecting her own daughter’s boyfriend as an equality and diversity manager at her own Trust.

The claims led to a chief executive quitting her job over ‘nepotism and favouritism’. She denied the claims and said she was victim of ‘personal slander.’

NHS senior manager Habib Naqvi, 39, was found not guilty of two charges of encouraging or assisting Mrs Vasco-Knight after the prosecution offered no evidence against him.

Whistleblower dentist wins legal claim against Shropshire NHS trust after ‘witch hunt’

Shropshire Star  February 26, 2017

A consultant dentist who said he had become the victim of a witch hunt at a Shropshire hospital has won legal claims against his former employers.

Mr Paul Dowsing, who specialised in treating mainly young patients, was consultant orthodontist at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital.

He claimed detriment and constructive unfair dismissal against Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust at a previous Birmingham Employment Tribunal after complaining that he was put under pressure to resign after making whistle blowing allegations against the hospital.

He alleged the hospital “covered up” failures to meet patient treatment targets within 18 weeks – at one stage involving 176 patients – and kept a “hidden” surgery waiting list of patients.

Mr Dowsing complained that the “waiting patients” could have been lost for ever considering that some dental could take up to three years.

Mr Dowsing, of Burton-on-Trent, also alleged the hospital “stopped the clock” for patients when they had been seen for assessment, rather than when their treatment had commenced. There was also an allegation that a hospital staff member incorrectly ordered £10,000 worth of stock.

The trust opposed Mr Dowsing’s legal claims and accused him of bringing patients from his Manor Practice at Burton to the hospital for out-of-hours treatment as private patients. The hospital complained this was a breach of contract and twice suspended him for a total of nearly 21 months.

An investigation was carried out. Mr Dowsing complained he became the victim of a witch hunt.

The tribunal hearing had been listed for 12 days and Judge Ron Broughton said he would make a decision at a later date.

Mr Broughton has now announced that Mr Dowsing was subjected to detriment and unfairly constructively dismissed as a result of making whistle blowing disclosures.

But he also said that Mr Dowsing’s own conduct had been “potentially both culpable and contributory”.

Mr Broughton said in his report: “He appears to have been held in high regard by many and to have had an almost impossible workload due to demand, the time-critical nature of some of the treatments, understaffing and financial constraints.”

A tribunal spokesman said an undisclosed award had since been made.


Former F1 doctor who turned whistleblower sacked by NHS hospital bosses

The Mirror 17 February 2017   BY  

Consultant neurosurgeon James Akinwunmi says after he made complaints on other doctors bosses closed ranks and forced him out

A former F1 doctor who turned whistleblower was sacked by NHS hospital bosses.

Consultant neurosurgeon James Akinwunmi says after he made complaints on other doctors bosses closed ranks and forced him out.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust are now poised to appeal against a tribunal ruling which found he was unfairly dismissed.

The tribunal ruled he had not been victimised on racial grounds or because of whistleblowing, but said the Trust had unfairly sacked him.

It said BSUH had not tried to address his concerns about returning to a hostile work environment, in which he had become “isolated” by other medics.

This was after Mr Akinwunmi, who previously supervised medical treatment for Formula 1 racing teams, claimed NHS emergencies had been turned away while on-call staff treated private patients.

He alleged they were fraudulently claiming double pay – but says his complaints were ignored.

A Trust investigation found there was no case to answer.

Colleagues claimed he had issued threats of violence against them, but no evidence was found to support the claims.

Mr Akinwunmi said as the spat deepened bosses and regulators hounded him over claims he had accidentally removed a healthy portion of a patient’s brain during surgery.

A High Court ruling later found it was a one-off mistake that should not have triggered restrictions on his practice and awarded £16,000 in costs against the GMC.

But he had taken time off as the feud with BSUH doctors deepened.

The Trust accused him of fleeing to the Cayman Islands, where he has a practice, and missing important meetings, and sacked him from his role in October 2014.

The Trust sacked him after claiming he had spent too long away on unauthorised leave, but he claimed he during this period he could not return because of a hostile workplace. The employment tribunal ruled the Trust should have made further efforts to facilitate his return and mediate following the dispute,so said he was unfairly dismissed.

A spokesperson for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals confirmed plans were afoot to appeal against the ruling.

They said: “Mr Akinwunmi made a claim to the employment tribunal against the Trust for unfair dismissal, victimisation and whistle blowing detriment in October 2014. Those claims were heard over a 12 day hearing in November and December 2015.“The judgment was received in 2016. The tribunal rejected Mr Akinwunmi’s claims of race discrimination victimisation. The Employment Tribunal also dismissed Mr Akinwunmi’s claim for whistle blowing detriment. Mr Akinwunmi is not appealing against these decisions to reject his claims of victimisation and whistle blowing detriment.
“The tribunal upheld his claim for unfair dismissal. The Trust however disagrees with the unfair dismissal decision and is appealing to the Employment appeal Tribunal. As the Trust is still involved in legal proceedings with Mr Akinwunmi it would be inappropriate to make any further comments at this stage.”

Legal experts draw on experience of NHS cover-ups as they draw up new Hillsborough Bill

The Independent 9 February 2017

The Independent Football

Legal experts will meet next week to hammer out the details of how a ‘Hillsborough Law’ might prevent a repeat of the institutional subterfuge and lies which followed the death of 96 Liverpool supporters at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground in 1989.

It took 27 years to establish the degree to which South Yorkshire Police and other public services failed supporters, with the police then involved in a calculated project to deflect blame by besmirching supporters and it is expected that a ‘Hillsborough Law’ will be drafted and tabled later this year to ensure that cannot happen in the future.

A symposium will be held in Liverpool next Wednesday, coordinated by the Liverpool Law School and Jackson Canter solicitors, at which Pete Weatherby QC, who represented many families at the Hillsborough inquests which concluded last year, is among the speakers. It will consider how the experience of disastrous management in the NHS can inform the bill. The Mid Staffs NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry led to the introduction of a ‘duty of candour’ across the NHS in 2014 and drafters of the Bill must decide whether statutory or regulatory regimes are the most effective approach to challenging institutional defensiveness.

The NHS has imposed a regulatory requirements of ‘candour’ and whistleblower protection, though the Bill could make it a criminal act to mislead the general public or media “intentionally or recklessly.” Those who mislead court proceedings or inquiries or fail to provide witness statements could also be prosecuted.

Another aim of the ‘Hillsborough Law’ would be to re-balance inquests, to prevent those struggling to cope with the financial might of public bodies by providing legal funding for bereaved families at inquests where police are involved. “We must call time on the uneven playing field at inquests where public bodies spend public money like water on hiring the best lawyers when ordinary families have to scratch around for whatever they can get,” MP Andy Burnham, who will push the Hillsborough Law, recently said.

MP Andy Burnham is pushing for the Hillsborough Law to be passed (Getty)

At the Liverpool symposium, there will be at least three workshops that will, respectively, consider: the Bill itself; the success or failure of the ‘duty of candour’ in the NHS context, enshrined in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 and the NHS Standard Contract 2014/2015; and police/public body accountability more generally. Speakers also include Deborah Coles of the respected INQUEST charity and a former NHS Trust chief executive, Alan Yates.

The Bill’s drafters, Weatherby and Jackson Canter’s Elkan Abrahamson, will consider the feedback from the symposium participants in order to develop and improve the Bill in preparation for presentation to Parliament.

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