Letter – Hunt by Fiona

From: Fiona Bell <fbell226@gmail.com>
Date: 16 November 2015 at 18:56
Subject: Whistle Blower faces Christmas losing a home still fighting Cancer
To: “mb-sofs@dh.gsi.gov.uk” <mb-sofs@dh.gsi.gov.uk>, “Jones, Edward” <edward.jones@dh.gsi.gov.uk>, “jeremy.hunt.mp@parliament.uk” <jeremy.hunt.mp@parliament.uk>, sharmila chowdhury <sharmila.chowdhury@hotmail.co.uk>
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To Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Health 16 November 2015

Dear Mr Hunt ,

In June last year a handful of us sat opposite you , at a meeting in your office, in order to get help for whistle blowers , the result of that meeting was the Speak up review , almost 18 months later very little has changed . Many whistle blowers are still unemployed , in lower paid jobs, on the bones of their backsides. The review gave us a little bit of hope .

However in the case of Sharmila Chowdhury , hope has been given, and cruelly taken away.

The fixed term contract organised by DH/TDA ends this month with no future plan.

Employment at the Imperial left Sharmila stressed and traumatised, as clearly they didn’t appreciate having their arms bent to take her on.  A permanent solution was the preferred option, Instead she was offered fixed term post at much lower pay and not related to her past experience, She was simply thrown in at the deep end , expected to sink or swim.
Sharmila covered 6 different posts in the one year – none related to her previous 30 years of experience, Got bullied into covering
3 full-time posts, all new to her, because the line manager took her to one side and advised ‘we are giving you an opportunity’.
Her post then got restructured where she ended up having to carrying rucksack with her own laptop and paperwork across 3 hospitals – carrying weights is medically contradicted as she has had surgery and risks lymphedema, which she  has now developed.The physio found swellings on her shoulder. Clearly  legal advise will need to be sought relating to this treatment and the long term impact on her health.
The post then got restructured again, where it no longer existed. Text messages kept being sent by her line manager about jobs outside the trust to encourage her to resign – none of the posts were suitable. (disgraceful bullying behaviour for a NHS manager)

Following  the 3rd restructure in this temporary post, where the post no longer existed – 10 months into the 12 month period, Sharmila was moved to a remote office at Hammersmith and was no longer invited to meetings and was alienated.

Sharmila ended up having to contact TDA (Kathy McLean) and your office again.  Sharmila was then given projects to undertake for the remainder of 2 months in a better environment where thankfully was not bullied.
However, one year on, Sharmila is yet again facing unemployment, being without income and  at risk of losing her home. 
Sharmila has suffered now for 6 long years. She still has  cancer , still needs treatment, Sharmila  just needs to be able to live a ‘normal’ life.
Sharmila  simply needs her pay, and pension reinstated to what it was when she whistle blew and reimbursed for missed mortgage payments, debts accrued as a result of her whistle blowing. We should have a health service that rewards whistle blowers for their services to the public and patient safety , not a health service with a department of health that continually punishes those that have done the right thing .

It appears for PR purposes there are some slight glimmers of hope but non of us including Sharmila are any  further forward. Monday November 16th NHS England boasted, via twitter how they were meeting with some whistle blowers to discuss how to get whistle blowers back to work , to be blunt , if Sharmila’s experience is anything to go by , its not going to be a great option , More concerning it’s taken 18 months to start that discussion !

I ask once again on behalf of Ms Chowdhury for some genuine practical help , the future is looking pretty grim for Sharmila , Christmas fighting cancer , without a home. You have had 18 months and longer to find a practical solution , it seems to many of us , lip service from your department is the solution rather than  any real help.

I have copied in the media in hope that they may be able to assist and support Sharmila further by insisting on a prompt response and resolution from your office.

Yours sincerely

Fiona Bell