Sharmila Chowdhury

 

  • I have given 30 years of flawless service to the NHS. I raised concerns that very substantial sums of money were being paid to two consultants who were working over several years at a private hospital when paid by the Trust. The practice was not stopped and I have never seen the outcome of any investigation into my concerns. I was dismissed after false counter allegation were made. I won at the Interim Relief Hearing and disciplinary appeal. I have been unable to find work. One job offer was withdrawn when they discovered I was a whistleblower.

I am now financially ruined and seriously ill with cancer, that consultants believe may be linked to the stress of my treatment and I am about to lose my home.

My story is not uncommon for NHS whistleblowers. No action has been taken against those responsible for cheating the NHS out of large sums of money nor against those who colluded to victimise me. I have an excellent paper trail to support my claims. What happened to me is still happening to others across the NHS.

  • I was a Budget holder for the radiology department at Ealing Hospital NHS Trust ( “the Trust”) where 2 consultant radiologists were moonlighting regularly at a private hospital at times for when they scheduled to work at, and being paid by, the Trust
  • Correspondence with the manager at the private hospital confirmed that they had attended that hospital since April 2006 for times whilst also being paid by the Trust
  • Matter was escalated to both my line manager and the line manager of the 2 consultants. Both confirmed this was a problem. One consultant admitted both to me and his line manager, that he was at the private hospital at material times
  • My concerns were escalated to The HR Director, Medical Director and The Chief Executive
  • Work which could not be completed due to private hospital commitments appeared to be completed out-of-hours and overtime was then being claimed
  • One Consultant was being paid for 13 sessions a week, i.e. 6.5 days, whilst at work for half that time (page 7 of Evidence)
  • There was double claiming of payments and for hours not worked
  • In September 2009, I discovered that the RIS/PACS manager in the department had failed to upload approximately 100 patients’ data for 6 months. Some of these patients would have had life-threatening conditions possibly compromising their prognosis. I wrote a letter to the RIS/PACS manager advising him that a formal investigation would take place
  • In November 2009 false verbal counter-allegations were made against me by the RIS/PACS manager on advice from one of the reported consultants
  • I was escorted out of the building and suspended; taking with me copy evidence and correspondence relating to my whistleblowing. I was subsequently dismissed despite no evidence of any wrongdoing. John Coleman was the investigating manager.
  • I took the matter to an Interim Relief Hearing before an Employment Tribunal, an option available for those dismissed for whistle blowing to have their contract reinstated. My trade union, the Society of Radiographers were unable to fund, and my lawyers/barristers acted for part of this stage pro bono. I won the case. Only a handful of whistleblowing cases have ever won at this stage. However, the Trust refused to let me return to work when asked by the judge
  • I also won appeal against dismissal. But still I was not allowed back to work. A spurious claim was made that new technology had been introduced that I was not trained to use.
  • Settled out of court. My Legal expenses totalled over £130,000 and I paid £77,500
  • Applied for numerous jobs. One Trust withdrew their offer when they discovered I was a whistle blower
  • I had reported the matter to the Treasury, Care Quality Commission, Department of Health, NHS London, Counter fraud and to number 10. My MP twice wrote to the Department of health. All responded stating they could not get involved, and took the same approach after I had won my interim relief hearing
  • There has been no independent investigation into my raised concerns, despite having documented evidence
  • Featured in The Independent twice, Channel 4 news and BBC’s Inside Out programme
  • The Chief Executive, HR Director, Medical Director and case manager have not been held accountable for addressing the allegations of fraud I reported to them and my treatment as a whistleblower
  • ITV undercover surveillance discovered that consultants at the Trust are still being absent during their paid sessions and Miranda Harvie and Akkib Rafique were caught on camera taking payments for private ultrasounds within Ealing Hospital which went into an account they set up
  • I have now been diagnosed with breast and lung cancer. Many consultants believe this is due to the stress of whistleblowing
  • I am now in severe financial difficulties. I will soon lose my home. My future pension has also been compromised, as I have not found further NHS work since.

Introduction

  1. I worked in the NHS since 1980, qualified as a radiographer in 1983 with 30 years of employment, without blemish.
  2. I joined Ealing Hospital in February 2003 as Deputy Imaging Manager. Promoted to Imaging Manger in May 2008.
  3. I was responsible for 60 staff members which did not include consultant radiologists, budget holder and responsible for signing-off additional work and attendances of all staff, including the consultant radiologists.

The reason for this submission is that I am advised mine is one of the strongest whistleblowing cases, as I won an Interim Relief Hearing at Employment Tribunal following my dismissal, but have been, left without real protection as a whistle blower. Raising concerns which I saw as my duty, has left me jobless, penniless and will soon be homeless and I am ill with cancer. Yet those responsible have not been held accountable, nor has there been any formal independent investigation into the concerns raised. Moreover huge amounts of public money which should have been spent on patients have been wasted.

Details Protected Disclosures

Issue 1

  1. In July 2007 I discovered that Miranda Harvie, consultant radiologist at Ealing Trust was paid weekly for 13 sessions though working half this time, (page 7), as evidenced by the weekly rota and documentation from the Trust’s Finance Department.
  2. I brought this to the attention of Kalpesh Chavda, Finance Manager and Walter Curati, Clinical Director, in July 2007. Also during 2008 and 2009 to both Jat Harchowal (Assistant Director of Operations and line manager) and Randy Mannie, Finance Manager.
  3. Curati, and Harchowal, stated this was a matter of serious concern, and that they had discussed this matter with Bill Lynn, the Medical Director in February 2009 and executive team members in March 2009.

Issue 2

  1. On 30 March 2009, following an urgent A&E where no available consultant radiologists could be found, I discovered that Peter Schnatterbeck,a consultant radiologist, and Harvie were undertaking sessions at Clementine Churchill, a private hospital, whilst seeking payment for sessions scheduled at the same time at the Trust. Correspondence from Clementine Churchill (page 3) confirmed that they had been attending that hospital since April 2006.
  2. On 23 April 2009, Curati and Harchowal were advised of this by me by e-mail. Schnatterbeck, admitted this in his e-mail of 27 April 2009 which I forwarded to Curati that day. On 27 July 2009 Curati wrote to Bill Lynn,(page 13) Medical Director, stating that Schnatterbeck, when challenged, had immediately admitted this.
  3. Visits to Clementine Churchill continued, and the matter was again raised by me on 30 July to Curati, Harchowal and Amar Dass, HR manager. An e-mail from Harchowal on 30 July in response stated that they had informed Paul Stanton,the HR Director.
  4. In July, August and September 2009 with two of my colleagues, I sent anonymous letters to NHS Counter Fraud. We were too scared to put our names.
  5. 24 August 2009, as absences continued I notified Stanton, Curati, Harchowal and Terry Roberts, Senior HR manager by e-mail.
  6. 25 August 2009, I e-mailed Stanton, Curati, Harchowal and Roberts that Clementine Churchill confirmed by phone that Harvie was there on 24 August whilst scheduled to work at the Trust.
  7. In response on 25 August 2009, (page 22) Roberts said counter fraud should be called, but subsequently said he was advised otherwise by Lynn as he, Lynn said he would ‘sort it.’
  8. Harvie’s absence on 7 September 2009 was notified by me to Curati, Stanton, Roberts and Harchowal
  9. On 8 September, I met Stanton to discuss my concerns as suggested by Roberts. Stanton said he had seen e-mails ‘flying around’ and suggested that I discuss the matter with Curati.

Issue 3

  1. Discovered Schnatterbeck was claiming for an out-of-hour’s session when he had been unable to complete his work during scheduled hours. So he appeared to be claiming payment from the NHS for a daytime shift when he was not present, and then claiming an out-of-hours payment (pages 18-19) for doing work which should have been completed during scheduled hours.
  2. 30 July 2009. I advised Harchowal and Curati by e-mail. Harchowal looked at the additional claims and agreed there was an issue.
  3. From 7 September 2009 to the end of November 2009 the weekly roster devised by Akib Rafique, consultant radiologist, excluded Harvie and Schnatterbeck on Mondays (pages 9-15) when working at Clementine Churchill, though they were still claiming payment for a full session at the Trust. This was presumably done to stop staff enquiring about their whereabouts. This was done for 7, 14, 28 September, 5, 19, 26 October, 9 and 16 November 2009.
  4. 6 October 2009, in the absence of Roberts, I contacted Dass for advice regarding marking their attendance in register. She advised me to mark these sessions as unauthorised absence, which I did.

Issue 4

  1. On 22 September 2009, Harchowal and Curati informed by me that consultants were claiming 4 hour s waiting list sessions – when bookings were for 2 hours and 40 minutes.Payments were an enhanced rate of £100 per hour. £400 for a 4 hour session.
  2. On 23 September 2009, Curati confirmed that waiting list sessions were paid at £400 and should last 4 hours.
  3. On 30 September 2009, I notified Stanton, Roberts, Seema Ahmed, HR manager, David Cahill, Philippa Graves,Operations Director, and Curati of these concerns as the matter had not been discussed with the relevant consultants, who were putting pressure on me to stop interfering. On 1 October 2009, was e-mailed by Rafique (page 13) confirming radiologists worked 3 hours but claimed 4, and he did not appreciate me dictating their working hours.

Issue 5

  1. Harvie, Rafique and Schnattebeck were claiming overtime whilst being paid to be in the department. So double claiming,(pages 15-19). 19 October 2009, I advised David Cahill, my interim manager, of this by e-mail.

All Issues

  1. 19 October 2009, I met with David Pratt, Finance Director. Cahill had previously advised me not to speak to either Julie Lowe, the Chief Executive or Pratt, regarding my concerns at the Directorate finance meeting which discussed the overspend in Radiology. Cahill suggested that carrots rather than stick needed to be used with regards to the radiologists. Philippa Graves, Director of Operations, advised that she would sort out the radiologists and I should not to leave myself open to criticism.
  2. On 21 October I met with Pratt, after discussing my concerns with Lowe who seemed aware of ongoing problems. I handed over documents to Pratt evidencing my concerns. Pratt called in Ealing Fraud Department to investigate my concerns.
  3. On early November 2009, I discussed my concerns with Grant Bezuidenhout,Team Manager, from Ealing Counter Fraud services, supplying relevant documents. I heard nothing further about the investigation until 3 June 2010, the day before being dismissed, when I was asked for contact details at the Clementine Churchill for an investigation being conducted into two doctors. This was 8 months after documents were first submitted.

Issue 7

  1. In September 2009, I discovered a serious incident where the PACS/RIS manager, Mike McWha, had not uploaded nuclear medicine reports and images for approximately 100 patients over 6 months, many of whom would have had life-threatening conditions. I raised this issue and sent a letter to him on 2 October 2009 indicating an investigation would commence.

My treatment

  1. Harchowal warned me during 2009 that Harvie and Curati were trying to get rid of me. He thought this was due to my protected disclosures.
  2. In October 2009 HR/payroll deducted £3,000 from Harvie’s and Schnatterbeck’s pay for unauthorised absences, though they were subsequently refunded as they had not been pre-warned. Harvie held me responsible. Staff witnessed Harvie complaining/swearing about me.
  3. 17 November 2009, I was called into John Coleman’s office, Director of Operations, and informed I was being suspended due to serious fraud allegations. I was escorted from the building in front of staff.
  4. Staff were warned against contacting me or they would be disciplined.
  5. Verbal allegations, had been made by McWha (after being advised by Harvie), 15 January 2010 in his interview with investigatory team.
  6. On 17 and 18 November, I emailed Lowe and Pratt,expressing concern that this action was being taken against me due to my protected disclosures.
  7. Prior to my suspension no one asked me how and when I undertook  reporting. It appeared that the Trust had simply acted on an allegation made by two individuals about whom I had raised concerns, without analysing the evidence, contrary to the way in which it had dealt with the disclosures I had made, which had all been backed up by evidence.
  8. On 14 December 2009, I was formally charged with “Fraudulent Behaviour (Undertaking additional paid work during core hours on 16 occasions between March 2009 and October 2009)” and told that this allegation if proven, constituted gross misconduct.
  9.  I attended an investigatory meeting on 22 December 2009.  At that meeting, I confirmed that the reporting work I did had been agreed with Walter Curati and the previous imaging manager, and that I was permitted to do a maximum of 1000 reports per month but that that agreement was not in writing.
  10. I was presented with the PACS system data for the first time at that meeting.  This I was told showed that the PACS system which I used to carry out the reporting work, had been logged onto during normal working hours.  However, the data supplied was totally flawed. The data showed that the I had reported at times when the PACS system was not logged onto, on some occasions, it showed that I was reporting in excess of 150 films in less than 15 minutes (which would have been impossible, each report taking approximately 1 minute), I was reporting for a full 24 hours on 4 occasions and on one occasion reporting whilst I was on annual leave. I also confirmed that the PACS system would often be left on and that, after a period of time, whilst the screen blanked out, the system remained open but that it was normally switched off overnight. The fact that the data was flawed was clearly evident and did not need a specialist to work out that it was full of inaccuracies.  In addition, I confirmed that I needed to access the PACS system at times to carry out my normal duties which included having to advise staff on image quality (QA) which are referred to the individuals or to the person in charge in the sorting area with the request forms as I am sometimes presented with images with wrong markers or with wrong or missing views, view trauma GP patients in absence of radiologists, save images for training/teaching/interviews and deal with other queries.  This was confirmed by Mike Mcwha in his interview on  page 6 , ‘ MM confirmed that SC could look up the images on RIS and PACS’ when there were queries and on  page 7, ‘Staff can make mistakes so there may be an occasion when SC might review that with a staff member.’.
  11. I followed up this meeting with a note setting out my response to the allegations.  I confirmed in that note that I started work at 8am every day, and although contracted to work 37.5 hours per week, there was in fact no contracted start and finish times and that where reporting was done between 8am and 9am, I would complete my contracted hours for those days by staying at least until the corresponding time at the end of the day and that I frequently worked in excess of my contracted hours, as well as working through my lunch breaks.  I also pointed out significant challenges to the PACS data and showed, from analysis of my emails, that at numerous times where I was apparently logged on to the PACS system, I was actually conducting my normal duties, such as attending meetings, dealing with department issues, writing policies, protocols  as highlighted by sent emails and my electronic diary.
  12. On 1 April 2010, I was provided with a copy of the report produced by Cathy Garlick, after she had conducted her investigation into the allegations against me.  That investigation was flawed in that Ms Garlick made no effort to investigate significant parts of my response to the allegations, placed undue weight on the statement of Mr McWha, and made no reference to the concerns I had raised that these allegations had been made against me because of my protected disclosures.  It also ignored significant evidence which I had presented.  Even then, the report concluded that Ms Garlick was unable to identify when reporting activity actually took place.  It did not make any recommendations that I should face disciplinary proceedings and its only recommendation was that “The need for additional reporting to take place should be reassessed as this arrangement has been in place for a length of time.  If additional reporting of PACs images is required, a formal, written agreement stating number of images and expected times of work should be agreed”.
  13. That report also contained a letter from Walter Curati who had confirmed that I had been trained to do the reporting work, was regularly monitored and there were no issues regarding my performance.
  14. However, despite that, I was then invited to a disciplinary hearing to face charges of gross misconduct. It is believed that the only evidence placed before the disciplinary panel was Ms Garlick’s investigation report and its appendices (which included notes of interviews from just myself and McWha and my statements, as referred to above).
  15. I then submitted a file to the disciplinary panel, containing 12 witness statements from those in my department, all exceptionally positive about me as a manager and confirming that the fact that I worked well in excess of my contracted 37.5 hours per week as I frequently came in at weekends, whilst on annual leave and worked late. I also submitted a printout of my work diary which showed that I often had work meetings during my lunch breaks, which were unpaid.  In addition, the file contained an email from an individual at Clementine Churchill, who confirmed that Miranda Harvie (MH) had been bragging about how she had managed to get rid of the manager and that she was very proud of what she had done.
  16. I submitted a full response to the statement of Mike McWha and provided full details of the concerns that had raised with him as regards the performance of his duties.
  17. Two of my witnesses had been prepared to give evidence in support of me.  However, when I had emailed Cynthia Artry in HR, and Linda Madely, deputy HR Director on 29 April and 13 May, expressing a request that they be called during their lunch break so that Miranda Harvie would not suspect their absence, and asking if the blinds overlooking the X-ray corridor could be pulled down so that they wouldn’t be seen, I received no response.

42.I then attended a disciplinary hearing on 4 June 2010 with my union representative, Paul Bromley.   However, it was clear at that hearing that none of the panel had read my file, despite it being handed 3 weeks previously.  For example, Mr Coleman asked for the documentation relating to my allegations against Mike McWha, even though all of that information was contained in the file I had submitted.  Further, the Respondent did not call my two witnesses.

  1. The disciplinary panel then retired in order to consider their finding. Notes from the disciplinary meeting have to date have not been provided.  However, 23 days later, they returned and confirmed that they found me guilty of fraud and that they did not accept that I worked through lunch as “that was a breach of the Working Time Directive” and that I had failed to provide evidence that I made up for the time and that I had undertaken the work during my core hours.  This was despite the fact that;
  2. Nowhere in my contract of employment, or in my job description, does it state what my core hours were. I have contacted Cynthia Artry, HR manager, via email on 9 June 2010 and on 15 June 2010 to provide me with a copy of my contract. However, I have not been sent a copy.
  3. Cathy Garlick, presenting the management case, had admitted that there was no written contract for the reporting work but that the Trust had authorised it;
  4. I would commence work at 8am, worked through my lunch break and frequently worked until 5 or 6pm, well in excess of my contracted 37.5 hours per week;

d.The radiologists and most others in the department did not commence work until 9am;

  1. The panel dismissed the evidence given by some of the 12 members of staff many of whom gave witness statements confirming that they had never seen me take a lunch break and also that they had frequently seen me working late in the evening and at weekends as well as coming in during my annual leave;
  2. The panel also dismissed printed copy of my work electronic diary which clearly showed I had booked meetings which showed I was working during lunch periods.
  3. They dismissed the evidence of my good character;

h.Cathy Garlick, presenting the management case, had admitted that there were inaccuracies in the PACS data such that Internal Fraud had admitted that they could not say when the reporting work had been undertaken;

  1. I had confirmed that I needed to use the PACS system during the day to carry out my normal duties;
  2. They took no account of my concerns that these allegations were being made against me because I had made protected disclosures;

 

  1. McWha was given access to my office, containing CDs of nuclear medicine patients. He destroyed the CDs. This was confirmed to me 19 April 2010 by Cynthia Artry, HR manager.
  2. The Trust, in their Annual Report 2009/10, gave McWha ‘Top Mentor’ award.
  3. 1 April 2010, over 4 months after my suspension, I was given the report by Cathy Garlick, after her investigation. It failed to find any wrongdoing on my part and there was no recommendation that I should face disciplinary proceedings.
  4. Nevertheless, I was invited to a disciplinary hearing by Coleman,facing charges of gross misconduct of fraud.
  5. I submitted a file containing 12 witness staff statements, all exceptionally positive about me. In addition, the file contained an e-mail from an individual at Clementine Churchill, who confirmed that Harvie (MH) had been ‘bragging’ she had managed to get rid of the manager and that she was very proud of that.
  6. I also submitted full details of the concerns I had raised with McWha.
  7. The disciplinary hearing was on 4 June 2010, 7 months after my suspension. The panel had not read my file, despite it being handed 3 weeks previously. The panel did not call my two witnesses.
  8. 23 days later, they confirmed they found me guilty of fraud and I was summarily dismissed on 4 June 2010.
  9. In addition, I was subjected to the following:
  10. Within two weeks of my suspension, my name removed from my office door, and my furniture and PACS station were removed, (page 5)
  11. I was not paid normal full-pay during my 7 month suspension, leading to significant financial crisis.
  12. An Advert was placed by the Trust for a Service Manager for Radiology and Pathology in April 2010. I was the Imaging (Radiology) Service Manager. Most of the responsibilities of the 2 posts were identical
  13. One of the clerical staff, had reported that Harvie on 23 December 2009, the day after my investigatory meeting, said in the main reception desk, ‘upwards and outwards’ with reference to me. Harvie was being kept informed by panel member with regards to my case.
  14. The Imaging Manager from Clementine Churchill in an e-mail to me on 12 April 2010, stated that Harvie had been bragging how she managed to get rid of the manager, stating that she considered Harvie to be ‘dangerous’. Given that Harvie was already being kept informed, this further highlighted that decision to move to dismiss me was being discussed with her.

 

Correspondences involving Ealing Counter Fraud

 

Examples of unprofessional behaviour, lack of respect and victimisation

  1. 17 November 2009 McWha wrote, ‘DING DONG SHARMILA’S GONE’. Written within minutes after being escorted out of the building.
  2. 29 December 2009 McWha wrote, ‘Ummm I raised some concerns about SC’s reporting work and she has been on suspension for 5 weeks now, as she is being investigated for fraud. I don’t think she’s coming back. She got marched off the premises by HR, got told to take everything, and go and to have no contact with staff. James has her name plate at his home now and should have already have fastened it to his toilet aka “the Chowdhury”. What else can I say, with a tear in my eye, I thought of you as she drove away. ‘

Signed off as ‘ 0800-FUCK-YOU-BITCH’

Actions taken by myself

Interim Relief Hearing

  1. Following dismissal I took my case to Interim Relief Hearing on 9 July 2010. Coleman,the manager who oversaw my suspension and dismissal was questioned at hearing. 2 barristers from Matrix, James Laddie (now QC) and Helen Mountfield QC represented me instructed by Julie Morris, from Russell, Jones and Walker.
  2. I won the case proving that I was dismissed as a direct result of whistleblowing. Judge Mahoney wrote, ‘I am satisfied that the claimant does have a pretty good chance of success in a claim for automatic dismissal on the grounds of her making a protected disclosure and in those circumstances I am going to grant the application for interim relief.’
  3. When asked by Judge Mahoney as to whether I would be allowed to return to work.Stanton, who spoke on behalf of Ealing Trust at the hearing, said ‘no’
  4. My contract was reinstated with full pay but I was not allowed back at work.
  5. My Trade Union, the Society of Radiographers could not cover legal expenses. So, even though some work was provided pro bono, I was responsible for the rest.
  6. My case was highlighted in several journals and twice in The Independent, as well as BBC’s Inside Out programme and Channel 4 news.

Appeal hearing

  1. I appealed against dismissal to an independent investigating officer who was appointed by the Trust. The hearing was held on 11 January 2011. I won the appeal but was not allowed back to work. Ealing in a letter to the Department of  Health claimed this was due to new technology in the department.
  2. For the appeal, my union representative was out of the country and advised me that a colleague would come with me to the appeal. His colleague declined as my case was too complicated. So I attended with a friend.
  3. Many of my witnesses felt threatened as the secretary to the HR Director called them to ask if they wanted to speak to the investigator

 

Governing bodies

  1. I wrote to George Osborne at Treasury, Andrew Lansley at Department of Health, David Cameron at No 10 and Ruth Carnall at NHS London. All stated that it was an ‘employment’ issue and therefore they were unable to intervene.
  2. 8 June 2010, my MP, Angie Braywrote to Ian Green, Chairman at Ealing Hospital. He forwarded the letter to Lowe,who responded by stating that it was going through a internal management process.
  3. Having won at the interim relief hearing and proven to be a whistle-bower, on 22 July 2010 I wrote again to Lansley, with a letter from my MP. In the response, Simon Burns, Department of Health wrote, ‘NHS staff have a basic right and duty to raise concerns about health service issues with their line managers and under no circumstances should they be penalised.’ Adding, ‘I am afraid Department of Health is unable to comment on individual cases.’
  4. I wrote again to Lansley on 11 September 2010. No help was given.
  5. I contacted David Cameron on 21 August 2011. Number 10 said they were unable to get involved as my case had not settled.
  6. My legal costs escalated to £77,500 and my case settled in March 2012 with a Trust apology. I anticipate that the Trust’s legal costs were of this order if not more
  7. Much of my severance payment, approximately 2 years pay, went towards my legal costs.
  8. I applied for and was offered a post in writing for an Imaging Manger at an NHS Hospital. The panel, consisting of clinical staff, interviewed me was fully aware of my whistleblowing. However, a couple of weeks later, a letter from HR department withdrew the offer, presumably after having discovered I was a whistleblower.
  9. I contacted David Cameron on 3 May 2012 after settlement, requesting an independent inquiry. He declined as it was seen as an ‘employment’ issue, despite it being a whistleblowing case, and having been concluded.

 

Undercover filming by ITV

  1. In 2012 ITV’s Exposure team undertook surveillance of Radiologists at Ealing, discovering that consultants were absent during paid hours; that Harvie and Rafique, new Clinical Director, were taking direct payments from patients for private ultrasounds within Ealing Hospital, which went into their own account. This was documented on camera. Ealing Trust confirmed to ITV, that radiology does not have provision for undertaking private work. An FOI was made of Lowe, Chief Executive, to enquire whether she knew about this; she took employment at North Middlesex Hospital within three months. ITV also interviewed Sir Geoffrey Howe.

 

Current situation

  1. I have been diagnosed with breast and lung cancer, for which I am being treated. Many, including numerous consultants believe this is due to stress from whistleblowing.
  2. There was, and has been, no protection given to me – a ‘proven’ whistleblower.
  3. I have been unable to secure any permanent job since leaving the Trust. My pension has been effected.
  4. I am now financially ruined, and will soon lose my home.
  5. There has been no independent inquiry into either my raised concerns or my treatment as a whistleblower.
  6. None of the managers at the Trust have been held to account for my treatment, nor the concerns raised by me.

Jobs

  1.  I have applied for numerous jobs in both the NHS and in the private sector without success.
  2. I had managed to get a temporary post in a private clinic for 8 months. My task was to register the clinic with CQC and undertake all the work/task required in order to achieve this. I was successful, and  the clinic passed on first inspection without any recommendation.  I had managed to get this post from recommendation from a friend.
  3. I was offered a permanent post at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. The panel which consisted of clinical staff were aware of my whistleblowing and advised that they will support me back to work. I received a letter of offer from the Trust. The offer was subsequently withdrawn by HR as they said they did not want anyone who has disputes with their trust.
  4. I have had post withdrawn after interview and interviews cancelled on the day. This is despite being advised by the agency that I was the strongest candidate.
  5. I have been blacklisted

Care Quality Commission 

  1.  I attended meeting at CQC where NHS whistleblowers were invited. I was asked to present about my case. Sir David Prior and James Titcombe were in the audience.
  2. Following the meeting I was invited to a meeting with Sir David Prior. I explained about my situation and about my reported fraud.  Sir Prior advised that there were numerous inspectors jobs at the CQC, should I be interested.
  3. I applied for the post but was not shortlisted. No reasons given.
  4. CQC also failed to investigate my raised concerns

Department of Health

  1. In December 2013 I wrote a letter to Jeremy Hunt asking for help. He did not respond.
  2. Sir Prior wrote to Jeremy Hunt, briefing him about my case. Following this, I met with Ed Jones, Special Advisor to Jeremy Hunt. Ed noted my situation and said he would get back to me.
  3. After two months, there was no response from Ed Jones, and I wrote again to Jeremy Hunt. This time it was an open letter. Ed Jones called me and said that I should have received a letter from Dan Poulter. I was not in receipt of this. So Ed sent Dan Poulter’s letter to me.
  4. Following this, I wrote another letter to Hunt, copying in MPs and about 60 journalists.
  5. By the afternoon, we as Whistleblower six, of which I am a part of, Hunt sent a message that he wanted to meet us. We have been campaigning for a public inquiry into our cases.
  6. I also received a phone call from Kathy Mclean, CEO, The Trust Development Authority advising me that DH had refereed my case on to them and that they would try and find me a job. They however, are responsible solely of non-foundation trusts.
  7. I met with Kathy McLean with Roger Kline, Director of Patients First, of which I am a member.  She identified the Imperial and the West Middlesex as two hospitals which were non-foundation and I could easily travel to work. About three weeks later,  30 June 2014, on my birthday, Kathy called and said that she had spoken to Christopher Harrison, Medical Director, of The Imperial, who had informed her that he had several posts in his department and I should contact him.
  8. I met with Christopher Harrison. He advised me that there was work being undertaken for their inspection into becoming a foundation trust. Inspection was scheduled in September. I was concerned that the post would only be for few months and I would be in the same situation in few months time. He had no details on what I would be expected to do or job description or pay. He then said that they may be able to do a fixed term for a year. Again, no definite offer. During our conversation, he said that some people claimed to be whistleblowers when they were not.
  9. I wrote a letter to Harrison, saying that  I would like to work at the Imperial and if he could find me a permanent post.
  10. Three days later after meeting him, I saw him at a court hearing in Liverpool, where he was giving evidence at  a whistleblowing case. He was the Medical Director at Christie Hospital before recently taking up post at The Imperial. Christie is being investigated by CQC and Monitor.
  11. Roger kline wrote to Harrison asking for an update.
  12. Ed Jones, advised media that I was offered an excellent job in the NHS. This was false. This was then followed by James Titcombe asking me on twitter why I had not taken the job offered.  I explained. However, tweets from James, continued for over an hour. This led to Dr Kim Holt and jennie Fecitt,  tweeting that I had been offered a job and I had refused. Many whistleblowers watching these tweets were taken back.  It was finally stopped by Fiona Bell, Unity Portal. This then followed with numerous emails from Dr Kim Holt and Jennie Fecitt from Patients First to me, of which I am a member.  I was left stressed with chest pains. I felt I was going through the same scenario as when I falsely accused during my whistleblowing case.
  13. Harrison has  responded saying that he cannot offer any job for more than a year as he would need to advertise. He has offered for me to meet with him and a girl called Shona to see what job I may be able to offer as a temporary/fixed term staff. So I will face the same situation in few months time. This cannot be viewed as a ‘stepping stone’ as I have worked temporarily before.
  14. My life still hangs on balance with no job, no income, no chance of early retirement as my pension will be significantly reduced due to actuation costs. Ealing Trust has refused to sign the relevant paperwork which would have meant I would have received full pension.  Although Ealing Hospital apologised for my treatment as a whistleblower, they said I left due to redundancy due to new technology and so was not allowed back. I still have  significant amount of mortgage and  will  be on maintenance treatment for cancer for t he foreseeable future.

 

Effect on my family

  1. The last five years had had a huge impact on my family. I am a single parent as my son’s father was killed in a road traffic accident. So, there has been no one available to help cushion the drop in income.It has had a huge financial strain.
  2. The stress of whistleblowing has not only affected me but also my son and my parents, who have had to watch me undergo daily stress with no end in sight. I am their only daughter.
  3. I now have cancer which numerous consultants have said is due to stress of whistleblowing. This has added to the strain for my family.
  4. My father, who was doctor, is also now ill with multiple system atrophy. He has now poor vision, unable to walk and is confused. The last memory he has of me is a daughter with on going whistleblowing dispute and  suffering from breast and lung cancer.
  5. Yet.not once has any member of my family or any friends have ever said that I should not have raised concerns. I have had their full support.
  6. I had lost some colleague friends along the way as they became too sacred to be associated with me, having seen what happened to my supporters.
  7. I will have to move out of my home very soon as I will have no funds left. I have not paid my mortgage the last five years. I have only being paying the interest.
  8. I and my family will never recover from this. It has been five years on anguish, pain, stress, alienation, humiliation and wholly unreal existence.

 Victimisation of my supporters 

  1. It isn’t just I who has suffered as a whistleblower but those who have openly seen to have supported me has also suffered.
  2. Shila Panchal, Imaging Manager at The Clementine, who had supplied me with the details of the consultants sessions  (Harvie & Schnatterbeck), was  suspended and dismissed within 9 months of my suspension. False allegations were raised against her. She had worked for BMI for over 30 years.  Just prior to this, she had sent me emails saying that Miranda Harvie was after her.
  3. Marie Smith, Sister in Radiology, was also removed from the radiology department on false allegations.  She had been voicing her support for me and condemned my treatment. Marie had worked in radiology for 29 years. Four of the radiology consultants wrote in to support her, but HR ignored their statements. Despite lack of any evidence of any wrongdoing, Marie was suspended and was moved to theatres where she had to learn new skills at 65 years of age.  Statement from Marie

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