‘Now sack £200,000 boss who hounded NHS whistleblower’: Calls come after damning report into treatment of whistleblower who accused his hospital of fixing death rates

  • David Loughton has spent more than £10million of taxpayers’ money over the past two decades fighting whistleblowers
  • Manager Sandra Haynes Kirkbright was suspended after raising concerns that his hospital trust had mis-recorded deaths
  • An independent review into her case condemned the trust’s management for its ‘significantly flawed’ and ‘unfair’ treatment

A £200,000-a-year NHS boss is facing calls to be sacked following a damning report into the treatment of a female employee who accused his hospital trust of ‘fixing’ death rates.

David Loughton, who runs The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, has spent more than £10million of taxpayers’ money over the past two decades fighting whistleblowers.

Manager Sandra Haynes Kirkbright was suspended after raising concerns that his hospital trust had mis-recorded deaths, making it look like fewer patients had died needlessly.

David Loughton, who runs The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, has spent more than £10million of taxpayers' money over the past two decades fighting whistleblowers

David Loughton, who runs The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, has spent more than £10million of taxpayers’ money over the past two decades fighting whistleblowers

In claims first made to the Daily Mail three years ago, the 52-year-old grandmother also said the trust had fraudulently made money by charging for treatments it had not performed. She was suspended and threatened with disciplinary action for speaking to the Mail.

Yesterday, an independent review into her case ordered by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt condemned the trust’s management for its ‘significantly flawed’ and ‘unfair’ treatment. In particular, it detailed the extraordinary behaviour of Mr Loughton, who was accused of making sure Mrs Haynes Kirkbright was ‘out of the way’ before a visit by hospital inspectors, telling staff to ‘kick this into the long grass’.

Mr Loughton told the report’s authors: ‘No one cares. If I’m fiddling money and stuff like that, it wouldn’t even get printed. Some people would probably give me a pat on the back and say: ‘If you are fiddling to try and get more money for the hospital, good on you’.’

Yesterday, regulator the NHS Trust Development Authority ordered a full review into the management of Mr Loughton’s hospital trust. But NHS whistleblowers called for him to be sacked or suspended.

Mr Loughton, 62, earns just over £210,000 per year as chief executive of Royal Wolverhampton. In 2013, the Mail revealed how Mrs Haynes Kirkbright faced ruin after being suspended by him. The hospital administrator blew the whistle after she was hired to oversee record keeping at the trust in 2011.

She said that when she arrived, others at the trust were ‘breaking every rule in the book’. Deaths had mistakenly been recorded in a way that made it look like fewer people were dying needlessly.

She also accused bosses of ‘fraud’ – which they strenuously deny. She said the trust had been charging the local primary care trust for more expensive procedures or treatments than the ones they had actually provided. The grandmother was suspended on allegations of bullying. After she spoke to the Mail, she was sent a threatening letter by Royal Wolverhampton saying she had breached her contract and faced disciplinary action.

Mr Hunt subsequently intervened, demanding an investigation and that all action against Mrs Haynes Kirkbright be frozen.

The independent investigation was overseen by top lawyer Lucy Scott-Moncrieff. The report, published yesterday, detailed how Mr Loughton allegedly ordered the removal of Mrs Haynes Kirkbright from the trust after she made her claims because it was due to be inspected by watchdog Monitor.

Manager Sandra Haynes Kirkbright was suspended after raising concerns that his hospital trust had mis-recorded deaths, making it look like fewer patients had died needlessly

Manager Sandra Haynes Kirkbright was suspended after raising concerns that his hospital trust had mis-recorded deaths, making it look like fewer patients had died needlessly

The report was particularly critical that allegations of fraud did not appear to have been investigated thoroughly. Mrs Haynes Kirkbright told the authors that after she used the word ‘fraud’ in an email, she was told ‘you can never put anything like that in an email because the Press can get hold of it through the Freedom of Information Act’.

The report found the trust’s whistleblowing policy ‘is not up to date and does not appear fit for purpose’.

Mr Loughton has worked as an NHS chief executive for 27 years and was appointed CBE in 2010 for services to healthcare.

When he ran Coventry’s Walsgrave Hospital for 17 years, it was named the worst in the country.

During this time, Mr Loughton suspended leading heart surgeon Dr Raj Mattu after he exposed that two patients had died in dangerously overcrowded bays.

Dr Mattu was wrongly accused of fraud, sexual impropriety and assault. He was cleared at a tribunal and in February was awarded £1.2million damages. Last year, Mr Loughton outed Professor David Ferry who had wished to remain anonymous while revealing 55 cancer patients were needlessly put through the agony of chemotherapy.

Mrs Haynes Kirkbright last night told the Mail: ‘I want the allegations I whistleblew about to actually be investigated properly. And I want my reputation back.’

Dr Mattu said: ‘It is time for Mr Loughton to be held to account and investigated fully. This man is not fit to hold senior public office.’

Professor Ferry said: ‘Loughton represents a generation of dinosaurs in the NHS. Central to his modus operandi is persecution of whistleblowers.’

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust said it takes whistleblowing extremely seriously and encourages staff and patients to come forward if they have concerns.


NHS whistle-blower told she was ‘too honest’ to work for the health service

The Telegraph 4 April 2016  JULIAN SIMMONDS
 Maha Yassaie at her home in Buckinghamshire
Maha Yassaie at her home in Buckinghamshire

An NHS whistle-blower who raised concerns about patient safety was told she was “too honest”​ ​to work for the organisation, The Telegraph can disclose.

Maha Yassaie, chief pharmacist at the now defunct Berkshire West Primary Care Trust, was told by a human resources consultant that her “values” made it difficult to work for the health service.

The investigator, Kelvin Cheatle, who was brought in from a private law firm to examine bullying claims and has carried out several similar inquiries for other NHS trusts, told the whistle-blower during a meeting: “If I had your values I would find it very difficult to work in the NHS”, according to a transcript of the conversation.

The independence of the consultant who made the comments has also been called into question since the conclusion of his investigation, when it emerged that he appeared to coach witnesses during the inquiry.

Mrs Yassaie was subsequently sacked from the Trust. However, following an employment tribunal in 2014, the whistle-blower was awarded £375,000 by the NHS, and the Department of Health was forced to admit that “the investigation and disciplinary processes… were, in some respects, flawed”.

The disclosures about the investigation into Mrs Yassaie after she raised concerns will fuel fears that NHS whistle-blowers are not treated fairly. 

It comes a year after a landmark report made recommendations to improve the poor treatment of people who expose wrongdoing, which the Government agreed to accept.

Former NHS head says whistle-blower report will be “largely ignored”Play!01:21


Mrs Yassaie had been working as chief pharmacist and leading a team at Berkshire West Primary Care Trust when she first alerted senior management to a string of concerns in 2011.  These included claims that a colleague was taking money from drug companies to prescribe certain products and a GP who accessed controlled drugs and used them to attempt suicide.

In 2012, the Trust appointed Mr Cheatle to carry out an independent investigation.

Mrs Yassaie said that she was asked to participate in an independent inquiry – believing it would address the safety concerns she had raised – only to find that she had become the target of separate disciplinary action, having been branded a “bully” by management after she made her protected disclosures.

During the inquiry, Mr Cheatle met Mrs Yassaie on several occasions.

In one meeting on August 15 2012, the investigator questioned the chief pharmacist’s “level of ethics” in light of her blowing the whistle on colleagues.

According to a transcript, which was created and circulated by one of Mr Cheatle’s colleagues, the investigator queried whether it was right for Mrs Yassaie to have raised concerns about her colleagues.

“I may know for a fact that some of the neighbours on my street are underpaying their taxes,” he said.Mrs Yassaie felt her claims about patient safety were never investigated

Mrs Yassaie felt her claims about patient safety were never investigated  

“If I report them I will probably never be invited to a street party or any other event. And this is essentially what you do. It is obviously not wrong, but it alienates your colleagues.”

“Surely you would feel you did the right thing though, if you reported your neighbours,” Mrs Yassaie replied.

“The street party would be a small price to pay for feeling good about doing the right thing.”

To which the investigator responded: “After listening to all this, I am thinking that if I had your values I would find it very difficult to work in the NHS.”

Mr Cheatle failed to uphold bullying claims, but concluded that Mrs Yassaie’s relationship with the Trust had broken down. She was subsequently dismissed from her job.

A separate inquiry by pharmacists’ regulator the General Pharmaceutical Council was later launched.  This concluded in February this year and upheld only one of 17 misconduct allegations against Mrs Yassaie. 

Mrs Yassaie told The Telegraph that she felt her claims about patient safety were never investigated.  She accused the NHS of carrying out a “deliberate hatchet job” after she told regulators about her patient safety concerns.  Mrs Yassaie has accused the NHS of “covering up” the allegations she made.

Since the conclusion of the investigation by Mr Cheatle, it has also emerged that he appeared to coach witnesses against the whistle-blower and encouraged them to “rehearse” statements.

“We need to discuss their evidence with them and ask them to focus on why [Mrs Yassaie] cannot return to work. I have held Friday pm, Monday pm, Tuesday and Wednesday and potential slots to rehearse… They should be asked to address their statements and how they feel relations have broken down,” he wrote in one email to the trust’s HR department.

A spokesman for Capsticks, the legal firm where Mr Cheatle works, said that the report he produced was “wholly independent and based purely on witness evidence, objectively obtained”.

They said that the “case was the subject of an internal process and was considered by an independent panel”.

A Department of Health spokesperson said that since Mrs Yassaie’s case they have “taken further steps to create a culture where staff feel confident and supported to raise concerns” and “strengthened protection for whistleblowers”. 

‘Bullying culture’ at QE hospital stopped staff speaking out over heart surgery unit, says report

ITV News   8 March 2016 
Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham Photo: PA


A culture of bullying prevented staff at an NHS trust from speaking out about the fact too many heart surgery patients were dying, a damning report has found.

Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found major problems with the way Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham runs its heart unit after a long history of high death rates compared with other hospitals.

The report says the NHS trust ignored repeated warnings over its high death rates, while there were a number of “near misses and unexpected deaths” in critical care.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, has now been ordered to make improvements and send weekly surgery results to the CQC.

Inspectors found a series of issues at the hospital, including:

  • Staff described a bullying and blame culture in theatres and critical care and found it difficult to raise concerns or challenge poor performance and behaviours. They did not always report incidents.
  • Trainee surgical doctors were not always supervised by a consultant in theatres despite needing it.
  • Difficulties in locating consultants when things went wrong in operations.
  • Some operations took longer than expected and patients were on cardiopulmonary bypass for long periods.
  • There was a higher-than-expected rate of blood transfusions, while re-bleeding rates post-surgery were higher and the number of patients needing to go back into surgery was “much higher” than the national average.
  • Consultant cardiac surgeons did not consistently undertake ward rounds on the cardiac surgery ward. They were also not in theatre “at appropriate times” and did not communicate effectively with staff in critical care.
  • There was a high rate of cancellations, with some patients’ surgery being cancelled on multiple occasions. The “institutional behaviour” of surgeon contributed to this, including late starts to operations, extended length of operation times and waiting for confirmation of a bed in intensive care.
  • There were vacancies in theatres that resulted in operations being cancelled or staff working extra shifts. Nurses expressed worry that they had no specific training in looking after heart patients or using specialist equipment.
  • Medical staff in critical care were not all cardiac-trained and at night there were difficulties accessing the on-call surgeon or the consultant
  • anaesthetist. There had been a number of near misses and unexpected patient deaths in critical care.

The report said the trust has only recently started a quality improvement programme (QIP), despite concerns being identified in 2013 and consultants approaching the executive team in 2014 with concerns around patient deaths and outcomes.

The trust was also informed that its death rates were outside the national average in March 2015.

Credit: ITV News Central
1713    adult heart operations between April 2011 and March 2014.
95.54%    recorded survival rate, which is below the acceptable rate of 96.5%.
77  deaths in 3 years. 17 more than the acceptable rate.

The hospital saw 1,713 adult heart operations between April 2011 and March 2014, there was a 95.54% recorded survival rate, which is below the acceptable rate of 96.5%. There were a total of 77 deaths, 17 more than the rate.

England’s chief inspector of hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said:

When we inspected cardiac surgery at the Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre we found a lack of strong leadership and a staff team with low morale that felt unable to raise concerns or report incidents.

Initial data regarding surgery outcomes in the months since our inspection show an improvement but we need to continue to monitor the service.

I have made it clear to the trust that it must continue its work to develop a

culture of strong team-working and improve staff training as it addresses the wider issues identified on inspection.”


According to The Guardian, data posted on the Society for Cardiothoracic

Surgery website last September – the most recent available – shows the hospital has been a “red outlier”, with death rates outside an acceptable range, over the three years from April 2011 to March 2014.

‘One patient died – it was complete and utter chaos’ – senior surgeon claims he was sacked for blowing the whistle

Lancashire Telegraph  Bill Jacobs, Local government reporter  

Wednesday 24 February 2016

SURGEON: Aditya Agrawal worked across Lancashire
SURGEON: Aditya Agrawal worked across Lancashire

A SENIOR liver surgeon who worked at both the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General Hospitals claimed he was sacked for blowing the whistle about alleged dangerous working practices.

Aditya Agrawal told a judge at an employment tribunal, the practices imposed on him and his former colleagues, contributed to at least one death and one unnecessary major operation taking place.

The £70,000-a-year surgeon told the Manchester hearing that, bosses at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, were determined to punish him rather than tackle the dangers and ‘malpractice’ he exposed.
Trust bosses are set to contest the consultants claims as the hearing unfolds this week.

Mr Agrawal is appealing the decision to dismiss him in July 2015, which followed a four year suspension on full pay, on the grounds of unfairness, racial discrimination and punishment for whistleblowing.

He told the tribunal headed by Judge David Franey, that after his appointment to his consultants post, the trust and its clinical director Rob Watson ‘abruptly’ imposed a new roster which was ‘a recipe for disaster’.

Mr Agrawal, who until this point had an ‘unblemished’ record with trust bosses, said he and a small number of consultants were overworked and patient safety and continuity of care were compromised.

Mr Agrawal told the tribunal: “There was utter chaos. Mistakes often occurred.

“Thus was a high risk patient who had improved clinically and did not need surgery ended up having major abdominal surgery with post operative complications.

“A case in point was the unfortunate patient in her early 30s with a benign liver condition who died in the Intensive Care Unit from mismanagement and lack of timely intervention. With such incidents occurring, it was impossible not to be alarmed.

“Disaster was waiting to happen.”

In another case the surgeon said an operation took place at Burnley General against his advice leading to ‘postoperative complications’ and the patient’s transfer to the Royal Blackburn Hospital for urgent treatment.
Mr Agrawal said he raised his concerns about the new ‘Consultant of the Day’ system with Mr Watson and then trust medical director Rineke Schram.

He highlighted other concerns including operating without basic instruments, operating in small theatres with poor lighting, a broken operating table and inexperienced ancillary staff.

He told the hearing he was reprimanded and told not to raise concerns again.

The consultant said he was then investigated over a series of ‘malicious, vexatious and frivolous’ allegations and ‘imaginary deaths and complications had been conjured up to create a case against me’.

Mr Agrawal said he was ‘abruptly and arbitrarily suspended’ and then dismissed on ‘entirely fabricated’ grounds damaging his career and causing financial and professional damage.

He said Mrs Schram’s investigation was ‘botched’ and the process from the beginning was about ‘punishment’ for raising his clinical concerns.

Mr Agrawal said Mrs Schram had ‘abused her position of power, responsibility and trust’ and ‘concealed actual incidents of negligence’ without ‘examining the veracity’ of the allegations against him.

Mr Agrawal told the tribunal: “The cause of this scandalous state of affairs is that I blew the whistle on unsafe practices.

“Sadly it transpires that these safety concerns appeared to be well founded and part of a general pattern since the recent Keogh Review found high mortality rates and serious failings within the trust and the trust was placed under special measures as a result.”

Barrister Mark Sutton QC, for the trust, questioned Mr Agrawal over whether he did know or should have known of the new rota system before accepting his job, and whether he fully understood the system for voicing clinical concerns and whistleblowing.

Mr Sutton also cross examine Mr Agrawal about whether his professional relationship with his medical colleagues had broken down before his suspension.

The hearing continues and is expected to last three to four weeks.

MP Peter Bottomley, who raised Mr Agrawal’s case in Parliament, is expected to make a submission and Mrs Schram and Mr Watson are scheduled to give evidence.

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Previously, Kevin Moynes, director of Human Resources & Organisational Development at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, has said: “It is inappropriate to comment on this case given that it is subject to on-going procedures and in light of the Trust’s obligations of confidentiality to its employees.

“The public can be assured that we always put the care and safety of patients at the centre of all decisions.”

Whistleblowers save lives – so protect them


On our front page today, we show images that speak louder than words about the life-threatening crisis gripping the overstretched NHS out-of-hours number.

Taken at the country’s worst-performing 111 service, where fatal errors were made in the case of baby William Mead, they show an exhausted paramedic and a call-handler slumped asleep at their posts.

Meanwhile, a whistleblower reveals the full extent of the blunders that led to the death of 12-month-old William, a victim of a ‘tick-box’ culture in which poorly trained staff failed to spot telltale signs of sepsis.

Worn out: The woman paramedic asleep at the Dorset 111 centreExhausted: Her call handler colleague. He is not the member of staff involved in the William Mead case

Worn out: A woman paramedic asleep at the Dorset 111 centre (left) and her call handler colleague (right), who is not the member of staff involved in the William Mead case

Shockingly, former manager Sarah Hayes reveals that ‘concerns had been repeatedly raised’ about the call-handler involved, whose interruptions and hurried manner in dealing with the case were criticised in a report we revealed last month.

This is despite assurances to William’s parents that ‘no concerns’ had been raised about the staff member. Even more disturbingly, he is still taking calls – and helping with training.

In other hushed-up incidents, Miss Hayes tells how call-handlers risked the life of a child and caused disfigurement, while she herself was left with no nurse or paramedic to cover a population of 400,000.

It is thanks only to brave people like her that the public ever hears of such cases. Yet as doctors and safety campaigners complained last week, the NHS treats whistleblowers abominably, sacking those who dare to speak out while never punishing managers who mistreat them.

Such is the poisonous legacy of Lord Leveson, whose advice that police whistleblowers should raise their concerns internally has been enthusiastically embraced by the health service.

How can we hope for reform until the Government makes good its pledge to protect those who reveal what’s wrong?

Comments received:

The NHS is a massive organisation with infrastructure and workforce. It needs its own independent police force rather like the Transport Police. So many deaths within it but no one really cares. Executives employ their own “investigators” at our expense to cover up and protect them (check out the job descriptions for these roles). The NHS management Mafia should go to prison for failures where someone has suffered or died, or where whistleblowers have been targeted. Most people do not know how powerful and thoroughly rotten many of these Executives actually are. It’s time some were sent to prison and their huge wealth confiscated for their crimes against the people.

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Shropshire whistleblower dentist tells job tribunal of ‘witch hunt’

Shropshire Star 6 February 2016

A consultant dentist complained he became the victim of a witch hunt after making whistleblowing allegations about waiting list breaches for patients at a hospital.

Mr Dowsing, who specialised in treating mainly young patients for dental regularities, was described by witnesses at Birmingham Employment Tribunal as an excellent dentist who “always put his patients first”.

He made a legal claim against the trust, which he joined in 2006, alleging detriment, including suspension, after making whistleblowing allegations.

Mr Dowsing, from Branston, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, alleged in his written statement to the tribunal that there was a problem over patients being put on the waiting list and left there. He said their treatment could have been lost for ever.

He said dental work could take up to three years in some cases.

“The trust breached Government targets for waiting lists (known as the 18-week rule) by using underhand means to distort the figures and waiting lists,” Mr Dowsing alleged in his statement.

He complained he was excluded from his work and later allowed to return. He went on sick leave for a time and eventually resigned.

Mr Dowsing further complained that his high standards of work and ethics “were not well received by all the staff”.

Under cross-examination, Mr Dowsing said: “There was a witch hunt against me – you (the trust) were out to get me.”

The trust denied the allegations and accused Mr Dowsing of being involved in “personal conflicts” by transferring patients from the hospital to community practices.

The trust alleged that Mr Dowsing had a personal interest in one particular “outside” practice.

Witnesses pointed out that the NHS had a contract with community practices anyway.

Mr Dowsing said in his statement that there was a “huge shortage” of orthodontists, particularly in Shropshire.

“When the workshop was particularly challenging we would start treatment in the hospital and then refer patients out to the community,” he said in his statement.

“This freed up hospital time so that patients were not left on waiting lists.

“What I have done is battle against shortages and do my best for patients.”

The hearing has been listed for 12 days and tribunal judge Ron Broughton will make a decision at a later date.

Doctor ‘sacked for whistleblowing’ should face fresh employment tribunal says judge

Croydon Advertiser

By Gareth_Davies  |  Posted: January 20, 2016

A tribunal found Dr Kevin Beatt was sacked for whistleblowing but a judge says the matter should be considered again

A DOCTOR found to have been sacked by Croydon University Hospital for whistleblowing should face a second employment tribunal, a judge has ruled.Dr Kevin Beatt, a consultant cardiologist, was sacked for gross misconduct following the death of a patient during a routine operation in 2011.An employment tribunal later decided he had been unfairly dismissed by Croydon Health Services (CHS) for making “protected disclosures” about patient safety.The trust appealed and today (Tuesday), Judge Peter Clark, of the Employment Appeal Tribunal, ruled the tribunal’s decision had not been “properly reasoned”.




Dr Beatt is now considering taking the matter to the Court of Appeal.

He told the Advertiser: “The judge accepted I made protected disclosures but is not sure that’s why I was dismissed. It’s beyond me how anyone could read the tribunal’s report and possibly say that.

“To put me through the expense [of another tribunal] is just not justice. The original judgment makes it clear why they dismissed me. They didn’t believe a word the trust said. If we have to re-hear it again the outcome will be the same.”

Gerald Storey, 63, suffered a heart attack during a routine angioplasty on June 9, 2011. Dr Beatt told his bosses he believed Mr Storey 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 hearing led by then CHS chairman Richard Parker. His appeal against the dismissal was rejected by a panel led by John Goulston, the trust’s current chief executive.

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

The trust said it was “very disappointed” by the ruling and, last year, hired a £5,000 a day QC to work on an appeal.

It argued the tribunal had failed to explain why it had decided Dr Beatt had been sacked for whistleblowing rather than misconduct.

In his judgment, Mr Clark said there had been “a degree of internal inconsistency” in the tribunal’s ruling, in that it had decided whistleblowing had led to Dr Beatt’s dismissal but had not ruled the disciplinary or appeal process had been unfair.

He referenced a paragraph of the tribunal’s judgment in which the panel said that, after “extensive findings of fact” the trust’s investigation into Dr Beatt’s conduct “appeared to be balanced” and that “the conduct of the disciplinary hearing itself appeared to be ‘quasi judicial in nature’.”

It later concluded, however, that “on all the evidence before us” the trust “has not shown the reason for dismissal was misconduct”.

Of Mr Goulston the tribunal said it was “struck by how little understanding he had of the facts, the issues before him and of the evidence that had been presented by [Dr Beatt] or his role as appeals manager”.

But Mr Clark said the “flaw” in the tribunal’s reasoning was that, instead of determining the facts known to Mr Parker and Mr Goulston it had “embarked on its own assessment” of the charges Dr Beatt faced and “found them less than compelling”.

He added: “What is signally missing from these extensive reasons is an analysis leading to the conclusion that the evidence of both Mr Parker and Mr Goulston was false and a deliberate attempt to mislead the employment tribunal as to the true reason for dismissal”.

He concluded: “I can discern no clear reasoning leading to the expressed conclusion that Mr Goulston and his panel members determined the appeal on the basis of the protected disclosures found by the employment tribunal, as opposed to the conduct grounds put forward.”

Mr Clark ordered a new tribunal but rejected the trust’s submission that the “perverse” original ruling be reversed.

CHS said the appeal tribunal’s decision had been made following “careful consideration” but offered no further comment.


This is the judgement:


Croydon Health Services NHS Trust v Beatt UKEAT/0136/15/JOJ

Keywords • discriminationprotected disclosureunfair dismissalvictimisation

Appeal by the Respondent against a finding that the Claimant’s dismissal was principally by reason of whistle-blowing and not by reason of conduct. Appeal upheld and case remitted for rehearing before a freshly constituted Tribunal.

The Claimant was employed by the Respondent as a Consultant Cardiologist from 2005 until 2012, when he was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct following a 6 day disciplinary hearing. The Claimant appealed to an internal appeal panel but was unsuccessful. He subsequently issued proceedings before the Employment Tribunal, claiming that his dismissal was automatically unfair, in that the principal reason for his dismissal was that he had made various protected disclosures, that he had been subjected to detrimental treatment on the ground that he had made protected disclosures, and further that he had been unlawfully victimised post-termination. The Tribunal upheld his claims. The Respondent appealed, broadly on the grounds that the Tribunal had failed to make a sustainable finding as to the reason for the dismissal and in its approach to the internal appeal.

The EAT allowed the Respondent’s appeal. In its approach to determining the real reason for dismissal, the Tribunal embarked on its own assessment of the conduct allegations upheld by the disciplinary and appeal hearings, found them less than compelling, and then moved to the conclusion that conduct was not the real reason for dismissal, but the protected disclosures. The Tribunal failed adequately to address or analyse the evidence of the disciplinary and appeal chairs, who both maintained that conduct was the true reason which caused them to dismiss. Appeal allowed and case remitted to a fresh Tribunal.

Tim Crane, Employment Law Solicitor


Appeal No. UKEAT/0136/15/JOJ



At the Tribunal

On 17 & 18 September 2015

Judgment handed down on 19 January 2016






Transcript of Proceedings



For the Appellant
(One of Her Majesty’s Counsel)
and MR IAN SCOTT (of Counsel)
Instructed by:
Capsticks Solicitors LLP
1 St Georges Road
SW19 4DR

For the Respondent
Instructed by:
Linklaters LLP
One Silk Street


UNFAIR DISMISSAL – Automatically unfair reasons


The Employment Tribunal finding that dismissal was by reason of the Claimant’s whistle blowing and not conduct, as the Respondent employer asserted, was not properly reasoned. Accordingly, the Respondent’s appeal was upheld and the case remitted to a fresh Employment Tribunal for rehearing.


1. In this case, between Dr Beatt, Claimant, and Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, Respondent, a final hearing took place before the London (South) Employment Tribunal (Employment Judge Sage and members) from 19 May to 2 June and on 7 July 2014. The Employment Tribunal then spent 10 days deliberating in Chambers before delivering themselves of their Reserved Judgment with Reasons extending to 201 pages, promulgated on 24 October 2014.


2. The Claimant was employed by the Respondent as a Consultant Cardiologist from 1 November 2005 until his dismissal on 14 September 2012 following a 6 day disciplinary hearing, at which he was represented by counsel, before a panel including Mr Richard Parker, Director of Operations, and Professor Beedham, a retired Consultant and former Clinical Director at Barts Hospital. Professor Beedham was brought into the process following a request by the Claimant for the panel to contain an independent medically qualified member. The panel concluded that the Claimant should be summarily dismissed for gross misconduct.

3. An internal appeal against dismissal was heard by a panel consisting of Mr Goulston, Chief Executive of the Trust; Mr Bailey, Consultant Urologist and former Medical Director of St George’s Hospital; and Ms Clarke CBE (Associate Non-Executive Director of the Trust with nursing experience at a high level).

4. The original disciplinary panel’s reasons for misconduct dismissal are set out in Mr Parker’s letter of 14 September 2012. The Claimant faced nine disciplinary charges; the panel upheld charges two, four, six, seven, eight and nine. Charges one, three and five were not upheld.

5. However, it was the Claimant’s case before the Employment Tribunal that the reason or principal reason for dismissal was not misconduct, but the fact that he had made protected disclosures and the disciplinary process prior to dismissal, the dismissal itself, the internal appeal process and acts of post-termination ‘victimisation’ were unlawful, either as being detrimental treatment on the grounds of his having made protected disclosures and/or, in the case of the dismissal, that the reason was as stated above.

6. As appears from the Employment Tribunal Reasons (page 8) the Claimant relied on 16 communications said to amount to protected disclosures. The first and second relate to 18 June 2008 and 8 February 2010 respectively. Those numbered three to seven, ranging from 23 February 2010 to 28 March 2011, were found by the Employment Tribunal not to amount to protected disclosures.

7. On 9 June 2011 a patient (GS) on whom the Claimant was operating, died during the course of that operation. There then followed protected disclosures by the Claimant, numbered 8 to 11 and 13 to 16, so the Employment Tribunal found. The Respondent challenges only the finding in relation to disclosure number 14. Those disclosures are summarised at page 9 of the Reasons. Numbers 8 to 11 and 13 to 15 cover a period 10 June to 3 August 2011 and thus pre-date the Claimant’s dismissal on 14 September 2012. The last disclosure, number 16, was made at the coroner’s inquest into the death of GS on 2 and 3 July 2013. Chronologically, those disclosures were followed by the post-termination victimisation complaints, listed at paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 of the detriments relied upon at page 9 of the Reasons, those taking place on 4, 5 and 30 July 2013.

The Issue

8. The formal list of issues, identified at a Case Management Discussion held on 3 May 2013, is set out at pages 6 to 9 of the Reasons. I use page numbers because the Tribunal do not use a sequential numbering system throughout their 200 page Reasons. Rather, one topic is covered in numbered paragraphs, then the next returning to paragraph 1 and then the next and so forth. If this method of organising a decision is to be used in future, and I hope that it will not, an opening contents page would greatly assist the reader in navigating the document.

9. The issues cover unfair dismissal, protected disclosures, a now irrelevant wages claim, the alleged ‘protected acts’; i.e. the protected disclosures and the detrimental treatment relied upon.

10. However, the overarching question for this Tribunal was which narrative, in whole or in part, did they accept; the Respondent’s case that the Claimant had misconducted himself in circumstances where, following a fair and impartial process, he was dismissed for that reason or the Claimant’s case that the whole disciplinary process was a “sham exercise” (I take that expression from paragraph 7 of Ms Iyengar’s written skeleton argument in this appeal) designed to rid the Trust of a distinguished medical practitioner because he had blown the whistle?

The Employment Tribunal Decision

11. It is the Claimant’s case before me that effectively the Employment Tribunal accepted the Claimant’s narrative, as I have put the issue in a binary way above. Certainly, the Tribunal’s conclusion supports that thesis. Their Judgment, page 1, was (1) that the Claimant was unfairly dismissed and the sole or principal reason for the dismissal was because the Claimant made a protected disclosure. Pausing there, the Judgment itself does not spell out which disclosure or disclosures, as found, constituted the sole, or perhaps principal reason for dismissal, but plainly that is a finding of automatically unfair dismissal under section 103A Employment Rights Act 1996. It seems to follow that both the dismissal itself and subsequent appeal process was motivated not by the Claimant’s conduct, as the Respondent asserted, but his whistle blowing. (2) The Claimant was subjected to a detriment by the Respondent done on the ground that he had made a protected disclosure. By combing the Tribunal’s Reasons it seems that the three post-termination victimisation allegations were upheld; but not the first two, an unfair disciplinary and appeal process; see pages 188 to 189, paragraphs 31 to 34. Already, it seems to me, a degree of internal inconsistency is emerging in the Employment Tribunal’s Judgment.

The Employment Tribunal’s Reasoning

12. This, in my judgment, is the key to this appeal. Ms Iyengar, in her broad overview, submits that this appeal is no more than a “brazen and misconceived perversity challenge”. I disagree. It seems to me that at the heart of the appeal is the proposition that the Employment Tribunal failed to make a sustainable finding as to the reason for dismissal (ground 2) and in its approach to the internal appeal (ground 3). I propose to examine those two grounds before moving on to the remaining grounds.

13. At page 190, paragraph 36, under the heading “The Dismissal” the Employment Tribunal say this:

“36. The Respondent has shown a potentially fair reason to dismiss and Mr Parker [chairing the disciplinary panel] stated that he dismissed for conduct which is a potentially fair reason to dismiss. We have made extensive findings of fact in respect of Mr Hayward’s investigation [leading to the disciplinary hearing] and the resultant investigatory report. We felt that on the whole the investigation appeared to be balanced … The conduct of the disciplinary hearing itself appeared to be, as described by the Respondent, “quasi judicial in nature” which the Tribunal accept …”

14. The Employment Tribunal then go on to place their own view of the strength or weakness of the allegations upheld by the Parker panel, paragraphs 38 to 48, and then at paragraph 49 (page 196) say:

“49. The Tribunal therefore conclude on all the evidence before us that the Respondent has not shown that the reason for dismissal was misconduct. …”

15. They then turn to the appeal conducted by Mr Goulston’s panel (paragraph 50), noting their finding as to how little an understanding of the facts Mr Goulston had.

16. They then express the conclusion (paragraph 52), having referred themselves to the guidance of Mummery LJ inKuzel v Roche Products Ltd [2008] IRLR 530, that:

“52. … the Respondent’s evidence of conduct be rejected. The Tribunal also conclude that the reason put forward by the Claimant, that he was dismissed for making protected disclosures, was the principal factor operating on the decision maker’s mind. The Tribunal reach this conclusion on the basis of the consistency of the Claimant’s evidence in respect of the events of the 9 June and his concerns expressed about patient safety after that date. We conclude that the Claimant was dismissed for escalating his concerns about health and safety concerns …”

17. At paragraph 53 the Employment Tribunal link disclosures 10 and 14 to allegations 6 and 7 in the dismissal letter and disclosures 8, 9, 11, 13 and 15 to allegations 4, 8 and 9. Those disclosures found the reason for dismissal; those reasons operated on the minds of Mr Parker and Mr Goulston.

18. For completeness, at paragraph 54 (page 199) the Employment Tribunal would have found the dismissal ordinarily unfair had they not made the section 103A finding and would not have made any deduction for contributory conduct on the part of the Claimant nor under the Polkey principle. They then went on to deal with the post-termination detriments which they upheld.


19. The flaw in the Employment Tribunal’s reasoning, in my judgment, is that instead of determining “the set of facts known to the employer, or it may be beliefs held by him, which cause him to dismiss the employee”, to adopt the timeless definition of the reason for dismissal formulated by Cairns LJ in Abernethy v Mott, Hay and Anderson [1974] ICR 323, the Employment Tribunal has embarked on its own assessment of the conduct charges upheld, first by the Parker panel and then by the appeal panel chaired by Mr Goulston; found them less than compelling and then moved to the conclusion that conduct was not the reason for dismissal but the protected disclosures. What is signally missing from these extensive Reasons is an analysis leading to the conclusion that the evidence of both Mr Parker and Mr Goulston, representing their respective panels, was false and a deliberate attempt to mislead the Employment Tribunal as to the true reason for dismissal.

20. This error in approach was further compounded by the Employment Tribunal linking, factually, disclosures 8, 9, 11, 13 and 15 to allegations 4, 8 and 9 in the dismissal letter. I accept the submission of Ms McNeill QC, leading Mr Scott, that at paragraph 53, page 198, the Employment Tribunal wrongly thought that the fact that these disciplinary charges were “related to” the substance of the disclosures referred to was sufficient to decide the reason question. That is not the correct causation test.

21. Separately, I can discern no clear reasoning leading to the expressed conclusion that Mr Goulston and his panel members determined the appeal on the basis of the protected disclosures found by the Employment Tribunal, as opposed to the conduct grounds put forward.


22. Having upheld the Respondent’s appeal (grounds 2 and 3) on the basis of the Employment Tribunal’s approach to the reason for dismissal certain consequences necessarily flow. First, the question of the inadmissible reason for dismissal must be retried. In my view that question must be determined by a fresh Employment Tribunal. I am not persuaded by Ms McNeill that the conclusion by the Sage Employment Tribunal is one that I can reverse on the basis that it is perverse. It also follows that the alternative finding of ‘ordinary’ unfair dismissal falls. It will arise again before the next Employment Tribunal if it is found that the reason was not automatically unfair under section 103AEmployment Rights Act 1996. Similarly, questions of Polkey and contribution must be left to the next Employment Tribunal. Also, the question of post-termination victimisation will depend upon the view taken by the next Tribunal as to the Respondent’s motivation in its actions. Finally, there is now no dispute as to which of the 16 disclosures are protected, save for number 14 which is the subject of ground 1 of the amended grounds of appeal. As to that, I agree with Ms Iyengar that the Employment Tribunal was entitled to find that this disclosure was substantially true and was made in good faith. Accordingly, I dismiss ground 1.

Brixham whistleblower nurse: “My four years of hell’

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 23, 2015

Andy Styles

Vasanta Suddock


A BRIXHAM nurse has won a four and a half year battle to clear her name after blowing the whistle on a Torquay nursing home.In a unique ‘David and Goliath’ court case, 48-year-old Vasanta Suddock represented herself in the High Court and won her appeal against the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Ms Suddock faced being struck off in July this year after a number of charges of professional misconduct against her were proved.

But she has successfully appealed in London’s High Court and the NMC panel’s decision has been thrown out.

She was also cleared by the Independent Safeguarding Authority and by Devon and Cornwall Police.

Speaking after her name was cleared, Ms Suddock said for the last four and half years life has been a nightmare for her.

She said: “This has affected my whole life. Life has been a nightmare for me and I have not been able to go out in public.

“I have had lots of support from friends and family and I have managed to keep my house, but it has been a struggle as I have been treated unfairly for the last four and a half years.

“I have had to represent myself all the way through the employment tribunal, the NMC tribunal and at the High Court in London because I couldn’t afford lawyers.

“The judge said it was a unique case both in the fact I had represented myself and succeeded and because I had been subject to such horrendous treatment. That was why she quashed those very serious allegations.”

Ms Suddock, a qualified registered general nurse, worked as the matron and manager at the Warberries Nursing Home in Torquay for 16 years, until the home went into administration in August 2011.

She then become concerned about the level of care at the home. When the new administration’s managers ignored her concerns she acted as a whistleblower to the Torbay Care Trust. After that, false allegations of bullying were made against Ms Suddock.

She was suspended and unfairly dismissed by the administrators. An employment tribunal in April 2012 confirmed she had been unfairly dismissed.

Justice Geraldine Andrews has now quashed the majority of the allegations.

She said: “The panel failed to appreciate there is evidence which strongly supports Ms Suddock’s assertion that someone, acting in bad faith, has set out to ruin her hitherto unquestioned reputation and her career.”

In respect to the most serious charges of improper care and bullying, Justice Andrews quashed all the serious charges against her.

A statement from the current owners of the home confirmed they purchased the home after Ms Suddock had been initially dismissed by the previous owners.


Apology from The Mirror:

Vasanta Suddock
17:26, 22 DEC 2015 UPDATED 17:27, 22 DEC 2015
Regarding our article “‘Constipation-obsessed’ care home matron struck off for giving residents laxatives SIX times a day”, which reported a Nursing and Midwifery disciplinary hearing
In our article “‘Constipation-obsessed’ care home matron struck off for giving residents laxatives SIX times a day” when reporting a Nursing and Midwifery disciplinary hearing into Vasanta Suddock, we did not make clear that she was cleared by the tribunal of any improper conduct relating to a patient’s perforated bowel.

We apologise for this error.

Furthermore, we are happy to report that her appeal to the High Court was successful and she was cleared of the claims reported by mirror.co.uk, the striking off order was cancelled against her, and she will be given a further opportunity to defend the remaining claims, which she strongly denies, in a future hearing if the NMC decides to proceed, after a warning was issues by the Judge that all matters would be struck out if the NMC do not abide by her recommendations.

Andy Weir: Bullying case NHS boss leaves with £170,000

The Independent 16 November 2015  Paul Gallagher     @PMGallagher1
Exclusive: Broadmoor trust executive landed new job before the end of investigation prompted by whistleblower


Britain’s largest mental health trust spent a year investigating multiple allegations of bullying, intimidation and harassment against staff, only to compensate an executive at the centre of the claims who was entitled to a £170,000 package after being suspended for a year on full pay.

West London Mental Health Trust launched an inquiry in March 2013, following complaints over the conduct of Andy Weir, the then £110,000 a year executive director of specialist and forensic services, who sat on the West London board in charge of the Trust’s 32 sites, which include Broadmoor hospital.

The investigation into his conduct looked at claims that Mr Weir “bullied, harassed and intimidated staff” and whether his management style “led to a climate of fear and intimidation where staff feel concerned about raising concerns relating to both themselves and standards of clinical care”.

A heavily redacted copy of a 59-page report, seen by The Independent on Sunday, was presented in June that year. It made two recommendations, one of which is not censored, asking whether relations between Mr Weir and staff who complained about him “can be improved by mediation”. Mr Weir’s evidence to investigators is heavily censored but does reveal he felt staff that made complaints against him “were collaborating in respect of their evidence”.

The report was finalised in October 2013. Despite uncovering “concerns with the culture in forensic services”, Mr Weir remained suspended on full pay for a further five months. He resigned in March 2014 before the overall investigation was complete to take up a senior role in another trust. 

Mr Weir walked away from the trust with £170,303, despite not working for 12 months. He is now working at the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

A spokesperson for West London said: “The independent investigation did not lead to any formal management action against Andy Weir but highlighted concerns with the culture in forensic services … 

“We also introduced a comprehensive staff engagement and management development programme to improve the culture and morale of the organisation and address concerns around bullying and harassment.”    

A leaked “communications handling plan” concerning Mr Weir’s departure, seen by the IoS, revealed that, if asked whether Mr Weir was “being made a scapegoat in a witch hunt by disaffected members of staff”, the trust would say: “We have carefully considered the concerns raised by members of staff but were not able to complete the investigation we undertook before Andy found a new role at another trust.”

The West London spokesperson said: “Given the personally challenging circumstances of the investigation Mr Weir understandably decided to apply for a job elsewhere … Mr Weir did not receive a pay-off of £170,000. Under his NHS terms of employment he received what he was contractually entitled to receive.”

When asked why after one year West London had not completed its investigation into Mr Weir, the trust spokesperson said: “While the investigation report was completed, the trust was still considering its response to the investigation report and its findings.”

A spokesperson for the Leeds and York Trust said: “The trust can confirm that we were aware of the allegations made against Andy Weir and had discussed these with him prior to his appointment. We are not able to comment any further as these allegations relate to Mr Weir’s former employment.”

Mr Weir declined to comment.

Although successive annual West London trust staff surveys in 2012 and 2013 revealed that a significant percentage of staff had reported bullying and harassment, the allegations came to public attention last year during the whistleblowing tribunal of psychologist Dr Hayley Dare. She had complained of feeling “bullied, intimidated and harassed” by Mr Weir and took her concerns to the chief executive, Steve Shrubb.

Dr Dare had taken the trust to an employment tribunal. She lost her case on a legal technicality that no longer exists, but appealed against the decision. Both parties came to an agreement last week, with the trust admitting that Dr Dare had acted in good faith and the public interest when speaking out about a culture of bullying and harassment. 

The trust had spent £130,000 in legal fees and Dr Dare agreed to withdraw her appeal, bringing an end to the case.

Letter to Jeremy Hunt 2 – Help & Justice for Sharmila Chowdhury


Please sign the petition DAVID CAMERON. WE WANT JUSTICE FOR SHARMILA CHOWDHURY NHS WHISTLEBLOWER https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/david-cameron-we-want-justice-for-sharmila-chowdhury-nhs-whistleblower

The following letter has been sent to Jeremy Hunt today:

30 May 2014

Rt Hon Mr Jeremy HuntHealth Secretary

Dear Mr Hunt

Re: My case as an NHS Whistleblower

 I have just received the email (attached) from your Special Advisor, Ed Jones.

 To say the letter from Dr Dan Poulter is outrageous is an understatement.  I would have thought that you would have felt somewhat relieved that I was not in receipt of this letter written in February. Instead you decide it appropriate to send it to me via email today. Clearly in support.

 It is scandalous that as the Secretary of State you do not take responsibility for the protection of NHS whistlebowers who are persecuted in hospitals and other settings, for which you are in charge. Instead you choose to…

View original post 714 more words

Dr Lucia Gibson – campaign

Lucia needs our help 


In 2007 Lucia explained to us that she raised concerns with her PCT over monies amounting to £60,000. 


Imagine the shock of then finding herself of being falsely accused of so-called ‘ghost’ patients and has had her practice closed by NHS England.


In the criminal case brought against Lucia the Judge criticized the PCT & stated that he agreed with the Jury that they should not bring a similar case to his court in future.


Yet here we are again in 2015 at the high court, tax payer’s money being used to continue the persecution of an innocent Doctor, worth reminding you all this Doctor was cleared of all charges even the General Medical council stated that this Doctor had suffered a “Manifest Injustice”


NHS England are now pursuing Lucia for approx. £600,000 pounds part of the costs for running her practice after suspension on false allegations. She was later cleared of all allegations. The GMC admitted it was a “manifest injustice” yet still she is pursued.  


We are looking for legal representation on a PRO BONO basis for this case – Lucia is like many of us out there cleaned out financially by NHS legal expenses.


Lucia came to us for help at short notice we advised, and as a result Lucia won a adjournment at the high court earlier this week, the case will be re listed at the high court in November.


When NHS England took over they spent considerably whilst running the practice by bringing in agency staff at at exorbitant rates for a single handed run practice, they themselves created the deficit. 








Dear Mr Hunt,



I write to you on behalf of Dr Lucia Gibson, it is my understanding that Lucia has previously approached you, that you indicated that Lucia’s case should be investigated as a matter of public interest. 


This does not appear to have happened, Instead Lucia continues to be persecuted through the high court using tax payers money in order to claim £600,000 .


These costs accrued by NHS England as a result of running Dr Gibson’s practice whilst suspended. Dr Gibson was cleared fully of all allegations, lost her GP practice in the process,  It appears Dr Gibson’s practice was run down by the incompetent business practices of NHS England Surrey.


In the criminal case brought against Lucia the Judge criticized the PCT & stated that he agreed with the Jury that they should not bring a similar case to his court in future.


Yet here we are again in 2015 at the high court, tax payers money being used to continue the persecution of an innocent Doctor, worth reminding you this Doctor was cleared of all charges even the General Medical council stated that this Doctor had suffered a “Manifest Injustice”


The employment tribunal hearing concluded that there was evidence of racial discrimination in this case.


So my question to you is are you going to allow the persecution of this good doctor , along with the continued waste of tax payers money being used to employ a legal team in order to continue that persecution? 


It is, in short a disgrace, and one of the most appalling cases of injustice against a NHS worker that I have been asked to take a look at. 


I trust in the circumstances this will be investigated independently as a matter of urgency. 






Fiona Bell


Health Campaigner


Twitter @Unityportal


cc   House of Commons Health Committe

      House of Commons Public Accounts Committee 

      Sir Robert Francis CQC NED

      Sir Jeremy Heywood Cabinet Secretary

      Simon Stevens NHS England

      Dr Lucia Gibson

      Mr Martyn Halle – Health Journalist



N&N hospital chief resigns after report highlights alleged ‘bullying culture’

Eastern Daily Press

27 June 2015      

Anna Dugdale, has resigned as chief executive of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Anna Dugdale, has resigned as chief executive of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The chief executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital resigned last night following discontent among medical staff and a critical report which highlighted an alleged “bullying culture”.


Anna Dugdale revealed she would be stepping down after a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report, published earlier this month.

The announcement came after more than 150 consultants met hospital chairman John Fry to raise concerns about how their trust dealt with the issues raised in the report, including allegations of bullying.

The consultants gathered initially on Thursday night to discuss their concerns about the hospital leadership.

One source said staff had “lost confidence” in the chief executive after the CQC report which alleged a “bullying culture” at the trust was coming from the highest level of management.

Mrs Dugdale sent an email to staff at 6.20am today announcing that she was stepping down. The email said that the hospital was making arrangements for a handover.

On her resignation, Mrs Dugdale said: “I have worked at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for many years, and as its chief executive for the last six. I love this hospital, I am so very proud of our staff and feel passionate about the care that we give our patients.

“This last year, however, has been one of the most challenging ever and two weeks ago we received a report from the CQC that raised some serious criticisms of areas of our work.

“As the chief executive I take responsibility for this and, therefore, today I have tendered my resignation.

“I believe that this is a truly great hospital and I have been so proud to serve the people of Norfolk as part of such a fantastic hospital team.”

She thanked hospital staff, patients and public for their support.

Mr Fry said Mrs Dugdale had been a “wonderful” chief executive.

“She has played a huge role in developing the hospital, its services for patients and partnerships with the UEA and Norwich Research Park,” he added.

“Her drive and commitment to the hospital, its staff and patients has been unrivalled. We owe her an enormous debt. Anna will be sorely missed and she 
leaves us with our very best wishes.”

A consultant at the hospital, who did not want to be named, said there was anger at the way Mrs Dugdale had informed staff about the CQC report and said that there was a “feeling the trust were trying to ignore the issues raised by the CQC”.

In a letter to staff, seen by the EDP, Ms Dugdale only referred to the trust’s NHS Staff Survey result which placed them in the bottom 20pc nationally for bullying and harassment and did not address the alleged “bullying culture” in the staff letter.

Mr Fry said: “Nobody should be bullied at work but our staff have highlighted a concern about bullying and harassment.

“This is something we take very seriously and we have been carrying out extensive work with staff members and staff representatives to develop and implement an action plan to address this issue. We are proud of our hospital and the care that we provide for our patients.

“We are introducing more frequent staff feedback surveys to monitor the effect of the measures we are taking.”

Do you have experiences of bullying in the health service? Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

The judge delivered no justice

The judge delivered no justice; Mr Francis called for criminal sanctions, but Sir Robert only urges people to behave better.

 Minh Alexander, former consultant psychiatrist


The Francis report on NHS whistleblowing was important to whistleblowers from all sectors, but proved to be a huge disappointment. I focus here on one of its most serious flaws: failure to deliver accountability.

 Robert Francis has decades of experience of healthcare failures and cover ups, and the untold grief that these cause. His experience includes medical negligence cases both as a barrister and as a judge, inquiries into high profile homicides by mental health patients, representing John Roylance former Chief Executive during the Inquiry into the Bristol heart scandal, acting for the GMC in the case of Richard Neale gynaecologist, working on the organs scandal at Alderhey Children’s hospital, chairing the two Mid Staffordshire inquiries and most recently, the Freedom to Speak Up Review.

 Surely all these years of experience must have crystallised key issues of justice and accountability for deliberate wrongdoing, such as recklessness and cover up. Accountability is a basic tenet of just culture. [1] The latter requires that recklessness and deliberate wrongdoing, as opposed to simple human error, are held to account.

 One would think therefore, that an examination of the severe mistreatment of NHS whistleblowers and the ruthless cover up of thousands of safety concerns, would give serious attention to strengthening the means of holding wrong doers to account. This is particularly so in the light of comments that Francis made in the two years since the publication of his report of the public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire scandal.

 Firstly, in his Mid-Staffordshire report Francis recommended that cover ups of risk and harm to patients should be criminalised:

 “Every provider trust must be under an obligation to tell the truth to any patient who has or may have been harmed by their care. It is not in my view sufficient to support this need by a contractual duty in commissioning arrangements. It requires a duty to patients, recognised in statute, to be truthful to them. It requires staff to be obliged by statute to make their employers aware of incidents in which harm has or may have been caused to patients so they can take the necessary action. The deliberate obstruction of the performance of these duties and the deliberate deception of patients in this regard should be criminal offences”. [2]

 On a number of subsequent occasions, Francis repeated his recommendations that whistleblowers should be protected from reprisal and suppression, by the introduction of criminal sanctions against perpetrators:

 “Speaking to Nursing Times, Mr Francis said: “I have called for a statutory duty of candour that trusts tell the truth to regulators and that there should be criminal sanctions if there’s willful obstruction of anyone performing their duties and informing their trusts about concerns to patients.

 “That is about as rigorous protection of whistleblowers as you can imagine, and that’s what I intended,” he said”. [3]

 In May 2013, Francis commented that not holding individuals to account for serious care failures, and any failure to apply appropriate criminal sanctions, would be very damaging to public confidence:

 He said: “Unless we have a criminal offence we will not be reflecting adequately the gravity of the terrible things it seems are capable of being done in our hospital wards.

 “If we don’t reflect somehow the fact the public rightly think some things are terrible and there should be real accountability for them, then I believe the public confidence in the NHS will evaporate” [4]

 There were critics of Francis’ own failure to hold individuals to account over MidStaffordshire. In this prophetic passage Private Eye noted that “…the judge delivered no justice”:

 Knighthood for a whitewash?

 One wonders what version of his report Robert Francis was reading at the press conference on 6 February. He looked like a man held hostage. The interminable delay in publication to allow for rewrites had reportedly been because those he was minded to criticise had launched vigorous legal defences. In the end he opted for a ridiculous “no scapegoats, blame the system” approach. This was endlessly debated after the Bristol Inquiry report in 2001, when a culture of “fair blame” was proposed. Ill thought-out, untested, rushed and brutally-enforced reforms undoubtedly contribute to NHS disasters, but individuals also have to be held accountable for their actions. Patients and staff trust a system that is just. But the judge delivered no justice”.  [5]

 Francis nevertheless continued to maintain that corrupt NHS leaders who suppressed safety issues and victimised whistleblowers should be dealt with decisively. In his oral evidence of 11 February 2014 to the Health Committee, as part of the committee’s inquiry into Complaints and Raising Concerns [6], Francis made these comments about accountability: [7]

 “In so far as whistleblowers are concerned, I am afraid my answer is very blunt about that. We now have unanimity among those who are leaders of the Government and everywhere else that suppressing whistleblowers is absolutely wrong. It seems to me that any chief executive, any board, that is found to be guilty of that should be sacked. I put that absolutely bluntly. There can be no excuse any longer. If you want culture change, if a step or two like that could be taken—and it is far from me to comment, but it may be there are some opportunities out there—then I would suggest that that ought to be done”.

 In response to a question from the committee chair, Francis confirmed that it was his view that such leaders should be held to account, pour encourager les autres. Francis at the same hearing again expressed the view that enforcing accountability for misconduct was key to culture change:

 “To take your example, a trust which is led by a chief executive who personally welcomes and celebrates a whistleblower or, hopefully, before even that, the raising of concerns, and at the same time comes down like a ton of bricks on anyone who has been seen to try and prevent that, will change the culture pretty rapidly, I think, in their institution”.

 Last year, when hundreds of whistleblowers waited expectantly for Francis’ (by now Sir Robert) repeatedly delayed report on NHS whistleblowing, his above comments were all in our minds.

 Shockingly, when Francis’ report [8] was finally published on 11 February 2015, a major U turn was evident. Criminal sanctions were not amongst his recommendations. Matters of corporate manslaughter and misconduct in public office were not mentioned, despite Francis’ acknowledgment that whistleblower suppression is a serious patient safety issue, constitutes serious misconduct, and is currently a substantial and serious matter in the NHS.

 It was also despite the fact that his senior researcher on the Freedom to SpeaK Up review Professor David Lewis, Employment Law and whistleblowing expert, supports criminal sanctions for whistleblowing reprisal. David Lewis in fact went on to make several public statements about the fact that Francis had not gone far enough, and that criminal sanctions should have been recommended.

 Francis glossed over the fact he himself had previously favoured criminal sanctions. There was a note of derision in his report about the fact that some contributors had “even” suggested criminal sanctions for reprisal. In fact, those who recommended criminal sanctions were amongst the most experienced campaigners and journalists, including the charity Compassion in Care [8] and Private Eye journalist Andrew Bousefield.  [10]

 Instead of strengthening accountability for reprisal, Francis gave inordinate focus in his report to how whistleblowers behave. He recommended that staff needed training to be tactful, he regurgitated employers’ propaganda about how whistleblowers may be “fixated” and “chronically embittered” and he repeatedly stated that staff should be held to account for the manner in which they raise concerns.

 On accountability for managers, Francis painted an utterly incorrect and distorted picture of just culture, implying that accountability and just culture are incompatible:

 “7.5.5 A number of the contributors suggested that if people were seen to be held to account this would send a powerful and positive message to other staff.

 7.5.6 However, there is another side to this which must be considered. Managers are just as vulnerable as other staff to the effects of the culture in which they work, and the pressures which are imposed on them. As stressed by some employers and their representatives a ‘just’ culture is equally as necessary for managers and leaders as it is for staff raising concerns. The consequence of an uneven approach could be a worsening blame culture for staff and a loss of talented managers from the NHS”.

 Francis further reduced the chances of corrupt leaders being held to account by refusing to support managerial regulation. He argued that CQC Regulation 5, Fit and Proper Person, [11] should be allowed to bed in. Everybody knew that FPPR was a weak instrument. Subsequently, CQC have spectacularly failed to apply it. CQC has refused to use FPPR against numerous managers complicit in serious whistleblower reprisal, even in cases such as that of Dr Kevin Beatt, who was fully vindicated by a damming Employment Tribunal judgment.

 Francis also airbrushed over the ultimate source of NHS bullying: politicians and the DH. He spared many blushes by recommending that past cases remain shut, denying hundreds of whistleblowers the chance of justice, and letting managers off the hook. His stated reason for this, as the man who waded through many thousands of pages of evidence at MidStaffordshire? It would be too complicated to look at old cases. This was despite the fact that he had noted in his report that many contributors’ cases were very recent. As Private Eye noted two years ago, the judge delivered no justice.

 Establishment resistance to transparency and accountability are not unique to the NHS. Commentators have noted a general rise in impunity for the powerful. [12] It is self-evident that this must change if lives are to be saved.


[1] What does just culture have to do with patient safety? A conversation with David Marx. Medscape 11 January 2010.

[2] Press release by Robert Francis upon publication of the MidStaffordshire Public Inquiry 6 February 2013

[3] Francis calls for new protection for whistleblowers, Shaun Lintern, Nursing Times 11 February 2013

[4] Francis presses government on criminal sanctions. Shaun Lintern Local Government Chronicle 17 May 2013

[5] Return to the killing fields. A chronicle of deaths foretold. Phil Hammond, Private Eye 17 March 2013

[6] House of Commons Health Committee Complaints and Raising Concerns Fourth Report of Session 2014–15, 21 January 2015

[7] Health Committee Oral evidence: Complaints and Raising Concerns, HC 1080 Tuesday 11 February 2014

[8] Freedom to Speak Up Review Report, by Sir Robert Francis QC, 11 February 2015

[9] Breaking the Silence, Compassion in Care

[10] Submission to Freedom to Speak Up review by Andrew Bousefield, 10 September 2014

[11] CQC Regulation 5: Fit and proper persons: directors and Regulation 20: Duty of candour Guidance for NHS bodies November 2014 and March 2014

[12] Institutionalised corruption in Neo-liberal Britain. David Whyte and Tom Mills, New Left Project 13 April 2015



Protection of NHS whistleblowers and NHS quality improvement – two birds killed with one stone

A very disappointing and arguably flawed `Freedom to Speak Up Review Report’ by Sir Robert Francis published in February 2015. A flawed document because all the basic steps of problem solving are not evident in the report.  Also, properly to analyse the problem and establish a solution requires a good understanding of industrial psychology, organisational behaviour and the power of conformity, how world class quality standards are achieved and how to create the organisation culture needed to achieve it. 
Step 1. What is the problem? The Report recognises that the protection of whistleblowers is a problem but fails to recognise the important problem of sacked whistleblowers, who are now unable to obtain redress for wrongful dismissal or redeployment in the NHS – the rectification of this essential if the Report recommendations are to have any credibility?  It also fails to recognise that the NHS is generally incapable of effectively rectifying failures in the quality of its services identified by whistleblowers/employees and for that matter its customers. Step 2. What is the cause of the problem?  The cause of whistleblowing is not effectively identified or analysed at all.   Step 3. What action should be taken to deal with the cause of the problem?  The Report provides a list of 20 `Principles and Actions’ as to how providers of NHS healthcare and regulators should behave and recommends yet another policing body to try to enforce it, which cannot be effective because it does not address the cause of the problem.   Step 2 ‘what is the cause of the problem’ is missing in the report i.e. what is causing people to bully others and repress free speech? As a result, Step 3 in the report does not address Step 2 and thereby resolve Step 1.
The main cause of the whistleblowing problem is reasonably clear.  The NHS is managed like a totalitarian state i.e. a very hierarchical command and control (C&C) dominated dictatorship using, target setting, regulation, inspection, intimidation (naming and blaming) at every level in an effort to improve productivity and quality to meet the needs and demands of customers.  It is a seriously outdated divide and rule, parent – child, them and us organisation and management system which creates fear in the workforce and is reminiscent of the UK car industry of the 1970s, which similarly failed competitively to improve its productivity and quality of products and services to meet customer need. Whistleblowing is only defined as such in centralised totalitarian/dictatorial command and control dominated management regimes. Free speech (and particularly the truth) is the biggest threat to dictatorship, which it has to suppress to survive.  Anyone who does not agree with its commands and practices is considered to be against the regime.  In such moribund cultures, which also breed informers, the vast majority of managers and staff do as they are told, avoid responsibility and keep their heads down for fear of losing their job or destroying their chance of promotion.  Indeed, the only way for people to gain promotion is to conform to meet the demands of their paymaster whoever they may be. All such regimes over a period of time fail to adapt to rapid change and inevitably corrupt and divide themselves into a protectionist profession silo mentality resulting in a pass the parcel service. 
Sir Robert recommends appointing yet another formal policing/inspection type system of an Independent National Officer and Freedom to Speak Up Guardians both of which are responsible to the totalitarian organisation and management system causing the present culture of fear and bullying. Behaviour change in the workplace cannot be achieved by regulation and inspection anymore than you can make people like each other.  Also, telling people how they should behave will not result in their behaviour changing. People’s overall behaviour in an organisation is substantially determined by four things:  1) its purpose; 2) its organisational paradigm i.e. the way it is organised and managed; 3) the knowledge and skills of its employees and 4) financial resources.  2) the NHS organisational paradigm is a key factor related to the problem, although the lack of a clearly defined purpose, financial resources to meet customer demand and the serious lack of knowledge of quality management methodology throughout the organisation is also contributing to the problem.
As a democracy, founded on the principle of no taxation without representation we, as owners of the NHS, should all be deeply concerned at the way the NHS is organised and managed.  Democratic, creative and progressive societies and organisations, where command and control management influence is minimal, are dependent for their existence upon everyone at every level being empowered to speak up to contribute to the process of continuous improvement of that society or organisation. A free press is essential and everyone is a whistleblower in an open democratic `stop the line (to use a process manufacturing analogy) continuous improvement organisational culture.  High quality services in complex industries like the NHS cannot be achieved in organisations operating a closed totalitarian C&C management dominated regime, which is designed to control social behaviour by subordinating and disempowering people – the exact opposite of what is required.  Thus the only protection a whistleblower in the NHS can be given is radically to dismantle and reform the present management regime of the NHS.  In turn this will radically improve productivity and the quality of services. Dismantling the regime will involve breaking it up into smaller autonomous units, creating an adult to adult management culture and training and involving everyone in the business planning and quality improvement and control process. There are only two ways to break the organisation into smaller units.   One is to privatise it, the other is to democratise it.  One of the problems with the privatisation of front line services is that it will fragment the services and thus militate against developing integrated services which is so desperately needed in the NHS, although the private sector may more effectively provide some supplier services.  Also, privatisation/marketisation and thereby competition does not ensure the development of high quality services. The car industry in the UK has always been highly competitive, but cost effective high quality car production was only achieved when total quality management methods, involving all staff, were introduced into the production process.  
It should be recognised that the Department of Health/NHS is by no means the only organisation involved in providing health and wellbeing services. The vast majority of existing local government services were created to prevent ill health through poor living conditions and to encourage individuals to maintain good health and wellbeing.  Public health, environmental health, refuse collection, leisure and recreation (re-creation), housing, social services and town planning services were all created for this purpose. In the case of mental health and the physical health of older people, which take up a sizeable part of the budget of the NHS, the importance of many of these services working together in harmony with health services to provide a whole person service cannot be underestimated.  Thus the democratisation of the NHS has to be the way forward and in doing so change the way it is organised and managed by creating district/neighbourhood multi disciplined and skilled health and care teams to work with clusters of GPs to provide an integrated service and empower staff by training everyone in quality improvement methodology. At present, circa £100bn is being spent by NHS civil servants, managers, clinicians and other professionals (represented by institutes/unions) with no accountability for their performance or the spending of public money to the local electorate. By devolving the commissioning and management of NHS services to the city/district level based upon the model used by local authorities, top health managers and clinicians would be directly appointed by elected representatives of the whole community to whom they would also be accountable for the design and delivery of services and the spending of public money.   It will also resolve the problem of whistleblowing. Whistleblowing is not a term that has been used in local government, where any attempt to suppress free speech of managers and staff (who are obliged to serve the whole council) by the political party in power would be seized upon by opposition political parties likely in the council chamber itself or through the free press.   
Arguably the Government/Department of Health/NHSE should concern itself only with developing overall NHS policy with regard to national health outcome standards, financial resource allocation and managing specialist services, which are not economically viable to be provided at the local level.  Otherwise, the local provision of NHS services should be delegated to the local community level, which arguably if placed under one health and care provider management umbrella would better enable the integrated management of all services related to the prevention of and recovery from ill health and the maintenance of good health and wellbeing.  It would also enable the creation of a more customer focussed service that can work in partnership with families and individuals at the district/ neighbourhood level better to identify customer need and encourage them to take more responsibility for managing their own health and wellbeing along with the development of the public services they own.   Increasingly the electorate are losing trust and confidence in the ability of national politicians and thereby national Government to manage public services to meet people’s needs. The time has now come to devolve much of the commissioning and management of the NHS to the local community level in the manner described above. In this process two birds will be killed by one stone – protection for whistleblowers and the creation of a high quality customer driven fully integrated health, wellbeing and social care service. 
John L Green MSc, NHS trust governor        Sir Brian Jarman, Emeritus Professor, Imperial College, London                                                                  johnlewis,green@virgin.net.                                                                                            \W&Q-4          Copyright © 2015

Bristol MP ‘determined upholder of NHS values of care free at the point of delivery’ – clinicians

By BrisNWNews  |  Posted: March 23, 2015

Charlotte Leslie with her NHS surgeon father Ian

Charlotte Leslie is a ‘determined upholder of the NHS values of care free at the point of delivery and need – not only for now, but for generations to come’.That’s the view of a group of NHS surgeons, professors and whistleblowers who put their careers on the line to keep the NHS free and safe both now and in the future. They include Professor Steve Bolsin, the anaesthetist who brought the Bristol baby heart surgery death rates into the public arena, leading to vastly reduced mortality at the Bristol Royal Infirmary as well as the implementation of clinical governance reforms in the UK. In the letter, the group say that Bristol North West MP Ms Leslie, who sits on the Health Select Committee, has been a steadfast supporter of work done to make sure NHS staff will never again have their careers put at risk because they highlighted poor practices which undermined patient safety.

 The letter says: “We write as a group of NHS campaigners for transparency, most of us whistleblowers, who have seen the worst of the NHS. 

 “Whistleblowers have suffered for the sake of protecting the interests of patients. 

 “Many of us have been through years of painful turmoil as a result of speaking up. 

 ” In such a journey, there are often few dependable friends.One of the few exceptions to this has been Charlotte Leslie MP, a woman of great decency, capability and refreshing honesty. NHS whistleblowers and cam-paigners are much indebted to her for all the support and advocacy that she has provided over the years. 

 “Without such stalwart help, the plight of NHS whistleblowers would not be as well known or understood. Ms Leslie’s abundant common sense and sense of fair play is very precious in public life, and shines through in her work on the Health Select Committee. 

 “Her support of the NHS is clear.”We know she is a determined upholder of the NHS values of care free at the point of delivery and need – not only for now, but for generations to come – and that she works hard for an NHS in which the interests of patients must be paramount.

 “Bristol is very lucky to have such a committed public servant.”
 Ms Leslie said: “I am humbled to have received this letter of support. As a politician, I have pas-sionately tried to ensure that we make the right decisions which will preserve a safe and free NHS for generations to come. 

 “Sadly, some opponents have decided to use the NHS for short term political gain when what we need is a mature debate to explore how this magnificent institution can flourish in the future.
 “At a time when I have been so misrepresented and attacked for trying to do the right thing for the NHS, it is heartening to hear that those at the sharp end in the health profession – some of whom have sacrificed their careers to preserve a quality NHS – have come out as a strong voice to say that our NHS is too important to become party political football.”

 The signatories to the letter are:
 Sir Brian Jarman, Emeritus Professor Imperial College Faculty of Medicine
 Professor Steve Bolsin Consultant Anaesthetist and whistleblower
 Gary Walker Former NHS CEO and whistleblower
 Professor Narinder Kapur Consultant Neuropsychologist and whistleblower
 Sharmila Chowdhury Former NHS Imaging Services Manager and whistleblower
 Dr Kevin Beatt Former NHS Consultant Cardiologist and whistleblower
 Lady Maha Yassaie Former NHS Chief Pharmacist for West Berkshire and whistle-blower
 Dr David Drew Former NHS Consultant Paediatrician and whistleblower
 Fiona Bell NHS whistleblower and complainant
 Dr Minh Alexander Former NHS Consultant Psychiatrist and whistleblower



Jeremy Hunt – is ‘sorry’ really the hardest word?

By Fiona Bell

Whilst travelling through the night in preparation for the Francis review, I decided once again to tackle the issue of an apology for Families of the bereaved and NHS whistle blowers, I knew Mr Hunt was due to give his response to the Francis report, and like many others knew things were not right in the NHS for patients and whistle blowers,  so thought perhaps it would be the right time , I think my request is quite clear, yet again I ask politely for a public apology for all . 
From: Fbell
Date: 11 February 2015 00:27:30 GMT
To:mb-sofs@dh.gsi.gov.uk” <mb-sofs@dh.gsi.gov.uk>, huntj@parliament.uk

Subject: Francis report

Dear Mr Hunt,

On the 28th October I listened as you spoke at the zero harm event , at that event you may recall I asked for an apology, for all families that had lost loved ones because of unsafe care and for our NHS whistle blowers.  You went on to explain that you often wrote to families to apologise, but without wanting to appear harsh that did not address the issue , you simply gave the answer of a politician and talked around the issue.

Tomorrow you will give your response to the Francis report on whistle blowing , many people will have hopes and expectations that may well seem impossible to fulfil.

So once again I ask again for a public apology for bereaved families and whistle blowers.  A simple apology costs nothing ,  litigation however costs the tax payer a small fortune.

Kind Regards

Fiona Bell

Imagine my surprise today when I get such a prompt response . …...

From: DoNotReply@dh.gsi.gov.uk
Date: 12 February 2015 11:25:36 GMT
To: fbell
Subject: Response to your Query :  – Ref:DE00000897093 – Your correspondence about whistleblowing.
Our ref: DE00000897093
Dear Ms Bell,

Thank you for your recent correspondence about whistleblowing, and your call for the Secretary of State for Health to make a public statement.  I have been asked to reply.

I hope you had the chance to see Mr Hunt’s statement in the House of Commons yesterday.  A link to the transcript of that statement is here:https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/francis-report-update-and-response.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Addison
Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries
Department of Health

One would ask do our politicians not understand a simple plain English request , it appears that “sorry” really is the hardest word.


Labour leader Ed Miliband throws support behind brave NHS whistleblower Sharmila Chowdhury

The Sunday Mirror  Jan 24, 2015 23:36    By Martyn Halle

The radiographer exposed alleged corruption costing hundreds of thousands after spotting consultants claiming pay while working privately

Sharmila Chowdhury - NHS whistleblower
Not supported: Sharmila Chowdhury was accused of fraud and sacked

Labour leader Ed Miliband has thrown his support behind brave NHS whistleblowerSharmila Chowdhury.

The radiographer exposed alleged corruption costing hundreds of thousands after claiming she spotting consultants claiming pay while working privately.

But rather than being thanked, she was accused of fraud and sacked at Ealing Hospital, North West London, in 2007.

Even though a tribunal agreed she should be protected, bosses refused to take her back.

Labour leader Ed Miliband
Helping hand: Labour leader Ed Miliband

Sharmila, 54, said: “I applied for dozens of NHS jobs but it was clear there was a black mark against my name.”

She met the Labour leader at Westminster after being nominated for a Local Hero award.

A spokesman said: “Ed spoke to Sharmila and thanked her for everything she had done.”

Last year she returned to work in the NHS after a meeting with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.



NHS whistleblowers slam Croydon University Hospital over treatment of sacked doctor

Croydon Advertiser    By Gareth_Davies  |  Posted: January 21, 2015
  •  Jane McNeill QC has been instructed by Croydon University Hospital to help appeal Dr Kevin Beatt’s (centre) tribunal verdict. Chief executive John Goulston, right, has declined to be interviewed on the subject

    Whistleblower Dr David Drew has raised his concerns with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

  • NHS whistleblowers have voiced their disgust over Croydon University Hospital’s decision to hire a top QC to fight a tribunal’s verdict that it sacked a doctor for raising safety concerns.

Dr David Drew, a whistleblower dismissed by Walsall Manor Hospital in 2010, said Croydon Health Services’s board was treating the hospital as its “personal fiefdom rather than a public service” and has written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt calling on him to intervene.


His concern followed a report in last week’s Advertiser in which we revealed the trust had already spent more than £130,000 on legal fees relating to Dr Kevin Beatt’s claim of unfair dismissal.

A judge decided the consultant cardiologist had been sacked for whistleblowing following the death of a patient during a routine operation in 2011, but the hospital is trying to appeal, hiring Jane McNeill QC to work alongside a barrister already on the case.


Old Square Chambers told the Advertiser Ms McNeill’s services cost between £50,000 and £60,000 for case preparation up until the first day of the hearing and between £4,000 to £5,000 per day thereafter.

Dr Drew accused the hospital of using public money to try and discredit Dr Beatt.


“The narrative of senior NHS managers mounting expensive, protracted and vicious campaigns against front line staff who raise concerns about patient care is well-established,” he said.

“The problem is that no one in a position to do so chooses to hold them to account. It is time for the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to act on this. Kevin Beatt is the archetypal whistleblower doctor and he is being stamped on by Stalinist management.”


Dr Drew was sacked for “gross misconduct” after emailing a Christian prayer to his colleagues, with his bosses claiming he had created a “toxic work environment” with inappropriate communications.

He believed he had been unfairly dismissed and was the victim of religious discrimination but lost his employment tribunal and then saw an appeal rejected.


The father-of-four, who has published a book on whistleblowing and the NHS, believes the email was a smokescreen used to sack him because he had expressed concern that cost-cutting was putting patients at risk.

Dr Beatt was dismissed after claiming one of his patients, Gerald Storey, died because a nurse had been suspended without his knowledge and, as such, was unable to help with the procedure. A coroner later agreed that the suspension had been a factor in Mr Storey’s death.


A tribunal rejected Croydon Health Services assertion that he had an “ulterior motive” for whistleblowing.

Its decision to instruct a highly expensive QC has been questioned by council leader Tony Newman and Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell.


The trust has declined to comment during the legal process.

Minh Alexander, a former consultant psychiatrist and whistleblower, said the case was “extremely concerning”.


“The trust’s determination to plough on with an appeal at public expense is scandalous.”

The Department of Health said it had received Dr Drew’s letter.


“It’s currently with policy officials who are looking into the case and will respond in due course,” a spokesman said.

The “inexcusable” treatment of whistleblowers by the NHS deters medical professionals from coming forward, A Commons select committee said today.


Patient watchdog ‘concerned’ 

A GROUP representing patients has expressed its “concern” over allegations of bullying within Croydon University Hospital.


Dr Beatt’s employment tribunal heard that Dr Asif Qasim intimidated, undermined and even physically restrained staff while working as a consultant in the cardiology department.

The cardiologist also put pressure on witnesses to change statements given during the internal investigation into Gerald Storey’s death, in order to focus on Dr Beatt’s conduct.


Croydon Health Services says it has investigated the allegations against Dr Qasim and he has no case to answer.

A spokesperson for Healthwatch Croydon, a patient watchdog, said: “We are concerned by the extremely serious allegations made at the hearing on bullying taking place amongst staff at Croydon University Hospital, and the issues highlighted about patient safety.


“However, we note that the management of Croydon University Hospital refute these claims and intend to appeal. Healthwatch Croydon will continue to monitor the views and experiences of the local residents of Croydon and elevate any concerns to the commissioners and providers of these services.”


Care worker QUITS because only had 15 minutes to spend with frail pensioners

The Mirror     Jan 17, 2015 23:53      By Pamela Owen
Whistleblower Gillian Demet says she was left with no choice but to resign from Sevacare who provide more than 4,000 care workers nationwide

John Gladwin/KNSEx Manchester caregiver Gillian Demet
Quit: Ex Manchester caregiver Gillian Demet

A home-care worker today reveals she quit her job because she was only allowed to spend 15 MINUTES a time with frail pensioners.

Whistleblower Gillian Demet says she was left with no choice but to resign from Sevacare who provide more than 4,000 care workers nationwide.

Miss Demet, 62, said the cruel rule was putting patients’ lives at risk. “Where is the love, compassion and care that should be shown to each and every elderly person?,” she demanded.

“You couldn’t spend time with clients. There was no time to talk, to chat or to build friendships.

“The only way I could have carried on was by not showing the level of care I wanted. I was not prepared to do that.”

Incredibly, when the Sunday Mirror approached Ravi Bains, the CEO of Sevacare, he AGREED the 15-minute visits were unfair on clients and staff.

And he accused the Government of damaging the vital home care industry with unreasonable budget cuts.

Mr Bains admitted: “The allocation of resources to home care is inadequate, it is a concern we share with our staff.

“Our carers are dedicated and committed, we want to do more for our staff and clients. We are fully ­sympathetic but our hands are tied and it’s due to government funding.”

GettyCarer looking after senior woman
Cutbacks: Spending on social care has dropped

 Miss Demet’s comments cast fresh light on how the crisis in home-care for elderly people is adding to the huge strain on hospitals, causing many OAPs to seek help in A&E units.

The number of elderly people being given state-funded care in their homes has dropped by a quarter in just five years, according to official figures.

A total of 1.3 million people receive state-funded home help, a care home place or hot meals – down from 1.7 million in 2007-08.

Charities said thousands of elderly and other ­vulnerable adults were being denied dignity and peace of mind because of council spending cuts.

Cash-strapped authorities nationwide are limiting provision with tougher rules on who is entitled to receive help.

Miss Demet survived cancer seven years ago and decided she wanted to work in healthcare to put something back, so she responded to a Sevacare advert.

Her previous jobs included being a personal trainer, painter and decorator and a hotel receptionist. She said: “None of that in any way prepared me for work as a carer. I had no experience whatsoever, but I got the job easily.”

After filling in a lengthy application she went on a three-day training course before shadowing another carer for 20 hours.

“I felt I was thrown in at the deep end,” she said. “The training just showed us the basics, but it was difficult when you have to start making visits on your own.

“These poor elderly people spend a lot of their days alone, but we couldn’t even spare a few minutes just to talk to them. You were on your way out of the door the moment you’d finished. They deserve more than that.”

Once in the job Miss Demet soon realised the sheer scale of her responsibilities. One typical shift saw her start work at 4.15pm, ­cramming in 14 visits by the end of her day at 9.45pm.

Another 14-hour day saw her start at 7am and finish after 9.30pm.

The number of home calls she was sent on meant she was only able to spend 15 minutes with most patients.

She said: “There were days when I had four appointments in an hour, 15 minutes for each, and that includes racing between them. It only gives you the time to do the bare minimum.”

Visits were often quite ­physically demanding.

Miss Demet explained: “Mornings were a killer. You would have to hoist them out of bed, undress them, hoist them into the shower, wash them, hoist them out, dry them, dress them, move them to the lounge, make them breakfast and give them their pills from blister packs.

“Once you’d done that you’d have to dash off to get to your next appointment.

“There’s no time to chat, to get to know them. A lot of these people were old and slow, it felt wrong treating them like that. There was no way you could complete the job properly in a few minutes.”

Miss Demet, of Salford, Greater Manchester, added: “I cared about the people I was visiting, but I just didn’t have the time to devote to them.”

She said staff felt pressured by head office, with them constantly on the phone when they were running late.

She said: “On the 14-hour days there was meant to be a two-hour break, but you could never make use of it. The only way to keep on time would be to cut corners. I wasn’t willing to do that.”

After just three weeks she quit the £6.70 per hour, minimum-wage position. She says the current system is unfair on staff and the elderly.

Miss Demet added: “It all boils down to money. The staff need to give more time to clients, but time costs money doesn’t it? I just became totally ­disillusioned. Talking to other people they felt the same, but people need jobs.”

She said the Government must increase funding for home care. She said: “The alternative is that all these people would have to go into residential care. That would cost taxpayers billions.”

And she believes staff deserve better conditions. She said: “Why aren’t carers paid a decent wage and given the time to spend with clients to do the job ­properly? It’s important work with vulnerable people.

“But after a few weeks I just thought I hope I never find myself in the situation where I have to rely on that sort of home care.”

Her concerns were shared by Mr Bains, who founded Sevacare from his garage in 1998.

GettyAndy Burnham
Concerns: Andy Burnham

 He applauded Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham’s plan to put health and social care together.

Mr Bains said: “We need to give more weight to home care, due to the ­reduction in resources more and more people are going into A&E, this is something our movement predicted years ago.”

He said: “You can’t really provide care in 15 minutes. There isn’t the time for that cup of tea.

“Mr and Mrs Smith or Singh may have been waiting all day for that visit. It’s the social side we can’t deliver any more. Our hands are tied by commissioning practices. Give us more resources, fund home care adequately, and we will keep people out of hospital. Cuts were made to home care years ago and now we are paying the price for it.”

Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Adult social care funding is in crisis and it is vital for our elderly population that government urgently addresses this. Short visits should never be the sole basis of care, but sadly the rise in 15 minute visits is symptomatic of a system that continues to be chronically underfunded.”

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