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