Disgraced former NHS boss Sir David Nicholson who retired on a £1.9million pension pot RETURNS to a health service job four years after quitting

Danyal Hussain For Mailonline   13 May 2018

  • Sir David Nicholson blamed for an NHS scandal which saw 1,400 patients die 
  • The scandal took place while he was head of West Midlands Health Authority
  • In his new role he is the part-time chair of the failing Worcestershire NHS Trust

A controversial former head of the NHS has returned to a health service job just four years after quitting in disgrace.

Sir David Nicholson, 63, was held responsible for not taking action over the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal where 1,400 patients died – while he was head of the West Midlands Health Authority.

Sir Nicholson was dubbed the ‘man with no shame’ by protesters, over his refusal to take responsibility for various NHS scandals, especially the neglect of patients at Mid Staffordshire NHS trust.

Sir David Nicholson, pictured, was the head of the West Midlands Health Authority during the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal


Sir David Nicholson, pictured, was the head of the West Midlands Health Authority during the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal

He reportedly ignored warnings that patients were dying due to poor care at his former trust.

Nicholson, who earned £290,000 a year and left with a £2 million pension pot, has been advising private sector companies since retiring.

In his new role, he will get £40,000 a year as part-time chair of the failing Worcestershire NHS Trust, which has been placed in special measures by the Care Quality Commission. 

His second wife, 20 years his junior, was one of his former trainees and is now chief executive at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Before retiring, Nicholson was also criticised over a £50,000-a-year expenses bill that included first class travel and the use of luxury hotels. 

His new appointment has been slammed by those who called for him to quit as an NHS chief executive.

Julie Bailey, who lost her mum at Mid Staffs and exposed the scandal, said last night that she was ‘appalled’ by Nicholson’s appointment.

‘This man ignored the concerns that were raised about Mid Staffs and refused to meet the families of those who had died or been harmed by dreadful care. He will be good at balancing the books but will do nothing for patient safety.

The Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal saw 1,400 patients die with protesters blaming Nicholson for the disaster


The Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal saw 1,400 patients die with protesters blaming Nicholson for the disaster

Miss Bailey, who headed up the campaign Cure the NHS, added: ‘He left the NHS because of the shocking state it was in and now they are bringing him back

‘The chairman of NHS improvement recently talked about having a ‘morale compass’ over appointments and investigating managers who have done wrong. Now her organisation is bringing back the man who failed hundreds of patients.’

NHS safety campaigner Fiona Bell, who met Nicholson and challenged him over patient deaths at other trusts said: ‘Sir David was at the heart of the culture at Mid Staffs. As usual, the NHS recycle leaders that have failed patients and staff in hope that the public has forgotten past mistakes. 

‘It beggars belief that some with such a disastrous track record is brought in turn around a trust that faces so many challenges.’

Gary Walker, former chief executive of United Lincolnshire NHS Trust, warned Nicholson that lives had been put at risk by unreasonable demands to meet targets, and said his concerns had been ignored by Nicholson.

NHS Improvement chief executive Ian Dalton – who gave Nicholson the job- acknowledged the Worcester trust ‘still faces many challenges’.

Julie Bailey (pictured) lost her mother in the scandal and has slammed Nicholson's new appointment


Julie Bailey (pictured) lost her mother in the scandal and has slammed Nicholson’s new appointment

Defending the appointment he said: ‘David brings huge expertise at both national and regional level. I know he is absolutely focused on improving patient care, and looking forward to getting underneath some of the difficult issues to see what positive changes can be brought about.

‘Making sustainable quality improvements and getting the trust on to a stronger financial footing will be priorities, working closely with the chief executive and wider leadership team.’

While there were some signs of improvement in accident and emergency performance this winter, the trust was still among the worst performers for ambulance delays.

Trust chief executive Michelle McKay said Nicholson’s ‘knowledge and understanding of the challenges we face in this trust and across the wider health and care system will, I am sure, be enormously helpful to our efforts to secure safe, high quality hospital services for the people of Worcestershire, as well as the work we are doing to move to a position of sustainable financial balance’. 


Ex-teacher sues for £700k after headmistress bullying ordeal

Evening Standard   9 March 2018      ANNA DAVIS 

Quit profession: Caroline Hadley told the court  that “teaching was my life”Quit profession: Caroline Hadley told the court that “teaching was my life” NEV AYLING

A former teacher who endured years of bullying by her headmistress is suing for £700,000 in damages

Caroline Hadley, 40, was the assistant headteacher of Gearies Primary School, Ilford, working under Anupe Hanch. 

Ms Hadley’s barrister Andrew Buchan said she was “exposed to a hostile working environment” over a four-year period and bullied between June 2010 and July 2012. She became “a direct target” after successfully steering the school through an Ofsted inspection, Central London county court heard. 


Mrs Hanch “undermined her career” by branding her a “rogue member of staff”, Mr Buchan claimed. She told the school finance officer that Ms Hadley “could not be trusted”, spread gossip about her and asked the caretaker to lie about her behaviour, the court heard. 

Mrs Hanch was eventually suspended and in May 2015 was found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct by the National College for Teaching and Leadership, said Mr Buchan. The panel found she said she would like to “chop off” a colleague’s head and once locked a teacher in an office for three hours. 

She was dismissed and, in June 2015, barred from teaching for life by the Government. Ms Hadley became head of a primary school in Camden but suffered depression and quit the profession, the court heard. 


She returned to her native Lancashire, where she cares for her mother. She is now suing the borough of Redbridge, which runs Gearies Primary School, over the bullying and harassment. The council has admitted breach of duty but is disputing the amount of compensation due to her.

Visibly upset in court, Ms Hadley said: “Teaching was my life… I tried going back several times and fought so hard for my career. But desire doesn’t have anything to do with it — there’s no way I could ever go back to teaching now.”

However after hearing all the evidence over two days, Judge Heather Baucher highlighted problems in the preparation of the case and directed a re-hearing of the claim.

She told Miss Hadley: “It’s not a decision which a trial judge takes lightly.  I know it’s very distressing for you, but it’s the right way forward.” 

The case is expected to return to court in September.

Mrs Hanch, 53, had no part in the case and was neither present nor legally represented in court.  

NHS whistle-blower investigator in ‘Freedom to Speak Up’ role

The Telegraph  5 April 2016
Kelvin Cheatle
Kelvin Cheatle was appointed to investigate bullying allegations against the whistle-blower CREDIT: CAPSTICKS

An independent investigator who suggested an NHS pharmacist was too honest to work for the service is involved in Jeremy Hunt’s flagship scheme to encourage whistle-blowers to speak out, the Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Kelvin Cheatle was brought in from a private law firm to carry out an independent inquiry into the conduct of a staff member after she raised concerns at the now defunct Berkshire West Primary Care Trust.

He was exposed by this newspaper for apparently coaching witnesses during disciplinary proceedings against the whistle-blower, which prompted concerns about his independence.

He is now involved in Freedom to Speak Up workshops at NHS trusts across the country, encouraging health staff to raise concerns without fear of reprisal from management. 

The Health Secretary introduced the initiative following concerns that whistle-blowers faced “bullying” and “isolation” for speaking out.

Protected disclosures

Maha Yassaie had been working as chief pharmacist at the NHS when she made a number of protected disclosures to regulators in 2011.


Maha Yassaie

Maha Yassaie was dismissed from Berkshire West Primary Care Trust in 2012 CREDIT: JULIAN SIMMONDS/TELEGRAPH 


Accusations of bullying were then lodged against her, which Mr Cheatle was brought in to investigate in 2012.

In one exchange during a meeting with Mrs Yassaie, the investigator said: “I am thinking that if I had your values I would find it very difficult to work in the NHS.”

The HR consultant claimed there had been a “breakdown of relationship” at her workplace. Mrs Yassaie was later dismissed from her role.

The whistle-blower was later awarded £375,000 in a settlement in 2014, with the Department of Health admitting parts of the investigation and disciplinary processes were “flawed”.

A spokesman for Capsticks, where Mr Cheatle works, said the company had not been engaged by the Department of Health regarding the Speak Up initiative, but confirmed they had jointly hosted an event last year.

He said: “Capsticks and Mr Cheatle provide ongoing support to NHS Trusts around the country in the implementation of the Speak Up initiative.”

The spokesman insisted that Mrs Yassaie’s whistle-blowing allegations were investigated separately by the Trust and not by Mr Cheatle. He said Mr Cheatle had not questioned Mrs Yassaie’s ethics.

He added that Mr Cheatle’s exchanges with Mrs Yassaie concentrated on bullying allegations, and denied any coaching or rehearsing of witnesses. The decision to sack Mrs Yassaie was taken by the Trust, he said.

Pressure Grows to Deliver Justice for Whistleblowers


The Times Politics 7 May 2014

The group want Jeremy Hunt to assure health service workers that they can raise concerns without fearing for their careers

Oli Scarff/Getty ImagJeremy Hunt
Doctors, nurses and MPs from both sides of the Commons united yesterday to demand justice for NHS whistleblowers who were ousted from their jobs after raising the alarm over poor care.
The new head of the health service faces growing pressure to reopen the cases of six former staff after The Times revealed that they had asked the government for a public inquiry into how they came to be punished for speaking out.
Five were recognised as whistleblowers during their employment tribunals and the medical skills of the sixth were not in question, his trust’s chief executive accepted. None has returned to their job.
The group wants Simon Stevens, the new head…

View original post 3,864 more words

I was held prisoner at The Christie: Former hospital director in £300k damages claim tells court

Manchester Evening News
Tracy Boylin, the former human resources director at the Withington cancer centre, alleges that she was imprisoned in 6ft x 10ft room for hours during a fiery meeting
Tracy Boylin

A former director of The Christie has told a court how she was imprisoned in a room and subjected to a verbal onslaught at the hospital.

Tracy Boylin, who was human resources director at the world-renowned cancer treatment centre in WithingtonManchester, alleges she was harassed over two months by an external HR consultant.

She has started proceedings against the hospital at Liverpool High Court where she is seeking damages of £300,000.

Ms Boylin, 49, from Bolton, claims she was kept in a 6ft by 10ft room by external consultant Christine Pilgrem, who had been brought in to review the trust’s top management.

She claims she suffered a stress-related, psychiatric injury as a result.

The former director alleges she was bullied and subjected to verbal abuse on five occasions between September and November 2010.

Matters came to a head on November 10, when the two women met to iron out ongoing issues between them and during which the alleged ‘imprisoning’ took place.

Christine Pilgrem

 Under cross-examination by David Eccles, representing the hospital, Ms Boylin accepted that she had met with Ms Pilgrem from 9.30am to 5pm that day, breaking off to attend a directors’ meeting in a different room.

Ms Boylin claims she was ‘imprisoned’ during both her meetings with Ms Pilgrem.

She told the court: “She stood up, towered over me and said ‘You are going ****ing nowhere and don’t **** with me’.

“It was not a normal situation. You don’t expect that to happen.”

Mr Eccles asked: “Did she stand in front of the door?”

Ms Boylin said: “Yes, she was blocking the exit.”

The claimant said she sat down as she felt her legs ‘going’ during a ‘heated’ 20-minute exchange. She added: “It was like someone turned switches off inside me”.

The Christie hospital

 Mr Eccles said Ms Boylin had later told her GP, a psychologist and an occupational health expert that she was ‘locked in the room all day’.

Ms Boylin said: “You can’t go if she won’t let you. You are locked in.”

Ms Pilgrem, who no longer works for the hospital, denies any wrongdoing.

Lawyers for the hospital argue that the exchange between the two women did not constitute harassment.

The hearing is expected to last a week.

Getting whistleblowers back to work


Good morning all,
My reason for writing to all is to ask that you all get behind a very simple campaign, all I ask is that your willing to have your name added to the attached letter in support of whistle blowers.
I’d ask that you share this email amongst as many as possible in order to get as much support as possible for brave people whom have spoken out often at great personal cost to themselves in order to protect others.
Kind Regards
Fiona Bell

Walsall manor whistleblower releases book dedicated to toddler Kyle Keen

By Walsall Advertiser  |  Posted: June 12, 2014

Kyle Keen was just 16 months old when he was shaken to death by his stepfather.

David’s book is dedicated to the youngster.Dr David Drew has lifted the lid on his turbulent career at Walsall Manor Hospital in his new book, the Little Stories of Life and Death. WATS20140610JOB 04-1456_C

LIFE has been a whirlwind for Dr David Drew – although he might not admit it. “Well, it’s pleasure and pain isn’t it?” he said. “I see it like this – I lost my three brothers to accidental deaths and that was at a time when I was bringing my own children up. “I had to live with the sadness of my brothers’ deaths, but pair that with raising my children.


“That’s the reality of life. It’s a mix.” And throughout his life, resilient Dr Drew has certainly had the best of both worlds.

There’s been the pleasure – his training in Bristol, running medical camps in the likes of Thailand and Nigeria and landing what he considered, at first, a “wonderful job” at Walsall Manor Hospital in 1992.
But then came the pain, which he said began when he spoke out about the death of a young patient in 2006. Kyle Keen was just 16-months-old when he was violently shaken to death by his stepfather, Tyrone Matthews.
But one week before his death, Kyle had received treatment at Walsall Manor – where bruising had been spotted on his body. Despite this, the youngster was sent home by another doctor and information was not passed on to police or Walsall Council’s children’s services – leading to no action being taken. “It was an avoidable death,” said Dr Drew. “The hospital covered up everything about Kyle’s death, they refused to take action or any remedy to rectify the mistakes.
“A serious case review [in 2009] admitted that Kyle was unlawfully killed following catastrophic failings at the hospital.” The head of the paediatric department at the time, Dr Drew became a whistle blower and raised concerns over the death.
He said this put him on a collision course with senior NHS management. It was in December last year – seven years following Kyle’s death – that Walsall Manor Hospital agreed to finally launch a thorough review into Kyle’s death.
The report is due to be published next week. But for Dr Drew, it is too late. “This should’ve been done within weeks of Kyle’s death – it should have been done years ago,” he argued. “It’s only when this report comes out that the public will have any idea of what really happened. “All I can say is that it explains what I’ve said about Kyle’s death from the start.”
Dr Drew’s book – Little Stories of Life and Death – is dedicated to Kyle. The youngster’s father, Rob, has been in contact with the doctor since they met in September 2012.
When asked if he thinks the report will give Mr Keen closure, Dr Drew isn’t so sure. “The thing is, you can’t undo the past,” he said. “But it helps when serious mistakes have been made and someone puts their hands up and says, ‘we’ve got this wrong’. “It’s ruined Rob’s life – he’s lost his son, his young daughter has lost a brother. “This report will send shockwaves.”
For Dr Drew, who moved on to become a clinical director, things went from bad to worse at the hospital. He grabbed the national headlines when he was sacked from Walsall Manor Hospital in 2010 for emailing quotes from the Bible to colleagues. Although insisting he had sent the prayer of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, to boost morale at a time of “cost-cutting” at the hospital, he was dismissed and lost his claim for unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal. Employment Judge David Kearsley agreed that Dr Drew’s religious language had been inappropriate in a professional business setting.
Two subsequent appeals against the ruling were also dismissed. His experience – along with allegations of bullying and understaffed wards at the hospital – have all been written down in Little Stories of Life and Death.
But the 66-year-old admits that reflecting on the past wasn’t easy. “Writing this book has been an immensely painful experience,” he said. “Going over my removal as clinical director, the disciplinary procedure, the tribunals and appeals were tough.”
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom at Walsall Manor, Dr Drew adds. He says the first 14 years of his career in Walsall were some of the best he ever had – and that he enjoyed reflecting back on them. “When I joined the hospital permanently in 1992 I had done a year there already in 1987,” said Dr Drew. “My wife Janet inspired me to get the job – she said during that year I had worked there, I was the happiest she had ever known me. “I loved Walsall. It’s very cosmopolitan. I knew I was never your average doctor and I had a lot of banter.”
Dr Drew is also positive about Richard Kirby, current chief executive of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital. “There’s a spirit of openness coming from the chief executive’s office which should transform the culture of Manor Hospital,” he said. “He needs bigging up – he’s a young man trying his best.”
Little Stories of Life and Death was published by Matador in April 2014 – and David said it has been “selling like hot cakes” with positive feedback from as far afield as Australia. He explained that the book also opens people’s eyes to how the NHS works.
“The NHS is brilliant – it saved my life twice last year and we have one of the best, most efficient health services in the world,” said Dr Drew, who lives in Sutton Coldfield. “But parts of it are badly managed, the culture is dreadful – staff are bullied, it does go on. “I hope my own story will help to create a culture in which it’s safe for staff to speak up for patients.”
For now, David looks forward to enjoying his retirement with wife Janet – whom he married in 1971 – and spending time with his four children and nine grandchildren. But he added that he has “another year or two” in him of talking and writing about his experience.
When asked if he would take the opportunity to blow the whistle again, Dr Drew’s response is a stern one. He believes that the stress of what he has gone through brought on a heart attack, which he suffered last year. “If I was a single person with no family I would definitely do it, but knowing what immense grief it’s brought to my whole family, the financial loss and the affect my illnesses have had on my family I wouldn’t,” he said. “And I wouldn’t advise anybody who’s got dependant relatives to raise concerns like I did. It’s too damaging all around.”
This week, after being contacted by the Advertiser, Walsall Manor Healthcare NHS Trust released a statement on the book. “We are aware that Dr Drew’s book has now been published,” said Richard Kirby, chief executive of the trust. “The issues that Dr Drew raises were the subject of an independent review back in 2009 and the employment issues involved were tested at an employment tribunal. “In addition we have recently commissioned a further review of a specific case. “As a trust we actively encourage and support our staff to raise an issue if they are concerned about patient care.”
And when asked about the investigation into Kyle Keen’s death, Mr Kirby added: “We will be meeting with Kyle’s father over the next few days to share the outcome of the external review. “A further statement will be available next week when the report is published.”
Little Stories of Life and Death can be purchased for £10.99 online from http://www.troubador.co.uk

Pressure Grows to Deliver Justice for Whistleblowers

The Times Politics 7 May 2014

The group want Jeremy Hunt to assure health service workers that they can raise concerns without fearing for their careers

The group want Jeremy Hunt to assure health service workers that they can raise concerns without fearing for their careers

Doctors, nurses and MPs from both sides of the Commons united yesterday to demand justice for NHS whistleblowers who were ousted from their jobs after raising the alarm over poor care.
The new head of the health service faces growing pressure to reopen the cases of six former staff after The Times revealed that they had asked the government for a public inquiry into how they came to be punished for speaking out.
Five were recognised as whistleblowers during their employment tribunals and the medical skills of the sixth were not in question, his trust’s chief executive accepted. None has returned to their job.
The group wants Simon Stevens, the new head of the NHS, and Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, to assure 1.4 million health service workers that they can raise concerns without fearing for their careers and livelihoods.

In Praise of Whistleblowers

NHS England should review the cases of six of them

Last updated at 12:01AM, May 7 2014


Whistleblowers can be difficult people and uncomfortable colleagues. They may act from a number of motives, not all of them noble. Their actions can cause immense embarrassment and sometimes even institutional damage. It is certainly understandable that their employers will rarely regard them with warm feelings of affection.

In an imperfect world, however, where mistakes and worse are made and then obscured to save faces or cover the derrières of those in power, where vested interests have no desire for the public to know the truth, whistleblowers are often essential. Indeed, we may want to encourage them to come forward with what they know. Instead they often find themselves facing disciplinary action for an unauthorised disclosure of information and for breach of contract.

This was certainly the case in the National Health Service until very recently. After the shocking revelations of what had being going on at the Mid-Staffordshire hospital trust, revelations we should remember that originated in whistleblowing by staff, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, took action to protect people who went public with their concerns. So-called “gagging clauses” in contracts of employment, whereby would-be whistleblowers stood to lose severance pay or benefits as a result of speaking out, were effectively abolished. Mr Hunt has claimed that a new “culture of openness” is spreading through the NHS, with hundreds of whistleblowers reporting instances of poor care every month.

We hope that Mr Hunt is right. But there is one more important way in which he can establish the message that no one will be made to pay for doing the right thing. As we reported yesterday, a group of six whistleblowers, whose activities predate the new era of NHS glasnost, are asking for their cases to be reviewed. They have written to the new head of NHS England, Simon Stevens, to request a fresh investigation into the way they were treated by their employers when their whistleblowing became known.

That some extraordinary injustices have been meted out to past whistleblowers was indicated last month by the case of Dr Raj Mattu. Dr Mattu, a cardiologist, drew attention to overcrowding at Walsgrave hospital in Coventry in 2001. Subsequently he found himself accused of a long series of unrelated misdemeanours and was dismissed. But after 12 years and millions of pounds spent in legal fees, an employment tribunal has found in Dr Mattu’s favour. He will shortly meet Mr Stevens to discuss what can only be described as his “ordeal”.

We may not presume that each of the six whistleblowers, all of them subjected to disciplinary measures of some sort, has been similarly wronged. But it does, at the very least, seem quite likely that some of them have lost jobs, pensions and peace of mind as a direct result of acting in the public interest.

Already a number of MPs of all parties have supported a review. This newspaper backs that call. We do so partly because there may well have been injustices in the past and, if that is the case, justice demands there is some form of compensation to those affected. But a more pressing reason for the review would be to send a message of encouragement to whistleblowers of the future. It is they who can expose wrongdoing and save lives in the NHS, and we should all support that.

I was blacklisted for speaking out, claims NHS whistleblower 

Published at 12:01AM, May 7 2014

Sharmila Chowdhury lost her job after whistleblowing on two senior doctors who were moonlighting at a private hospital while being paid by the NHS

Sharmila Chowdhury lost her job after whistleblowing on two senior doctors who were moonlighting at a private hospital while being paid by the NHS

Before Sharmila Chowdhury leaves her house each day, she puts on her wig and make-up. The ravages of her chemotherapy, however, are among the least of the radiographer’s worries.

For 27 years she worked her way up through the NHS in London, rising to become the manager of the imaging services department at Ealing Hospital NHS Trust. She was liked and respected and happy in her work.

Then the day came when she noticed that something was allegedly wrong in some of her colleagues’ timesheets. In 2007 she claimed that two doctors had been claiming for shifts at Ealing while they were moonlighting at a private hospital in Harrow.

It was then alleged that the trust had lost £250,000 of public money through similar arrangements.

She complained, but nothing happened at first. Then she walked into the nightmare world of the NHS whistleblower.

After a series of fraud claims against her that were never proven, she was suspended and marched out of the building in front of her staff. She won the subsequent interim relief tribunal in 2010, but the trust would not take her back. “Despite winning a hearing in which I was proven to be a whistleblower, I’ve no job and no money,” she said.

Last July Mrs Chowdhury, 54, went into a clinic for a routine scan and it was found she had breast cancer that had spread to her lungs. She said that a number of consultants had told her it was likely to be linked to the stress caused by the struggle over her job.

“There’s nothing you can do about it,” she said. “You just have to do the best. I still wear my make-up and my friends don’t realise I’m suffering, they don’t know at all.”

Mrs Chowdhury, a widow, now stands to lose her house at the end of a tree-lined terrace in west London. For several years she has barely been able to keep up with the interest payments on her mortgage and now, as the last of her savings drain out of her account, she is worried that even these may prove too much. She is also looking after her 23-year-old son, who is a student.

She has applied for several posts in the health service since leaving Ealing. Sometimes she succeeds, even after telling her interviewer that she is a whistleblower. Then her papers arrive at HR and the jobs melt away.

Once she tried for a position as a locum, a job for which she was outstandingly overqualified. She was offered an interview and then on the morning she was due to go in, she had a phone call to say it was cancelled. “I think I was blacklisted,” she said. “At one interview I said I was a whistleblower and they said that was fine. I had a job offer in writing. It was when I got to HR that there was a problem. We’ve all found the same. It’s not the clinical staff’s fault.”

In the course of her battle against the trust, Mrs Chowdhury has incurred more than £130,000 in legal fees. The judge in her employment tribunal ordered her former managers to reinstate her full salary for two years, but that was two years ago.

She has a wish list for Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary. First is an independent and public investigation into her case and the concerns she raised. Second is a job, or if not a job then a secure income and pension contributions until she retires.

She has called for a public inquiry into NHS whistleblowing and for the senior managers who hound their staff out for raising concerns to become accountable.

If possible, she wants other whistleblowers to be found jobs of the same standing — and if not, then for them to be paid until they retire.

Mrs Chowdhury is in regular contact with one of Mr Hunt’s special advisers and is optimistic that her concerns will be heard. Then again, she is optimistic about most things in her life.

Angie Bray, Mrs Chowdhury’s MP, said that she and others in her situation needed an avenue to justice.

“I think that Sharmila deserves all the support she can get,” she said.

“I would agree with re-examining cases where the individual involved in dealing with the whistleblower unsatisfactorily continues to be in authority in the NHS, and in short those who fail to address concerns raised by whistleblowers, who are continuing to work within the NHS, should face further questions.

“I do believe that [whistleblowers] do need serious attention given to this. If you want to encourage more openness and honesty, we’re going to have to make sure that we give them a proper support.”


NHS whistleblowers demand justice

Oliver Moody May 6 2014

Pressure is mounting on the NHS to reopen the cases of six of its most famous whistleblowers after they called for a judge-led public inquiry.

After a string of critical reports by MPs, the whistleblowers have written to a senior official at the Department of Health to ask for fresh investigations and compensation in what would be a series of landmark reviews.

The six are hopeful that Simon Stevens, the new head of the NHS, will radically change how the health service handles serious complaints from its staff in future. Last week he agreed to meet Raj Mattu, a heart doctor who won a 12-year battle to clear his name after going public with concerns about overcrowding on his wards.

Dr Mattu’s victory last month in an employment tribunal, one of the first of its kind, has lent impetus to others campaigning for restitution after losing their jobs in their battles with the NHS.

The six, led by David Drew, a paediatrician whose 37-year career was ruined after he voiced concerns about bullying and staff shortages, have written to Charlie Massey, a senior official in the health department. “We have all suffered employment, reputational and financial loss,” they wrote. “Some of us have had health problems and we have all endured severe stress. We would like our cases investigated and remedied at the earliest opportunity.”

The whistleblowers also called for a judicial public inquiry into the obstacles they had faced. Dr Drew has won the support of Andrew Mitchell, the MP for Sutton Coldfield and former chief whip, who has written to Dr Massey to call for the cases to be re-opened.

Another signatory, Sharmila Chowdhury, lost her job as a radiology manager at the Ealing hospitals NHS trust after complaining that consultants were taking tens of thousands of pounds in personal payments for ultrasound scans. She said that she would have to sell her house as a result of her battle against the trust.

“I have lost my career, my pension, and [am] about to lose my home,” she said. “I also now have cancer, which numerous consultants believe is due to the stress of whistleblowing.”

Ms Chowdhury, a widow struggling to support her son, said that she wanted all whistleblowers to be paid by the NHS until they retired if they had been forced out of their jobs. Last month she met a special adviser to Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, to suggest reforms but has yet to hear back.

The other signatories to the letter include Narinder Kapur, a neuropsychologist who went on a hunger strike after being unfairly dismissed by Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Dr Massey replied to say that although he could not yet make a decision about their “far-reaching” questions, their call for a fresh round of investigations was being considered “very carefully indeed”.

Dr Drew said that it was “no response at all”. He added: “The government and department of health have no answer to the large number of other whistleblowers who have been defeated by employment law and left to rot. The DoH has no interest in getting justice for frontline staff who have done the right thing [or] to learn the lessons of our cases.

Cleared doctor to tell NHS chief of war against him

Owen Humphreys/ Reuters
Raj Mattu was one of Britain’s leading heart doctors before he was suspended by his NHS trust after raising concerns about deaths on his ward
Dr Raj Mattu arriving at an employment tribunal in Birmingham
Raj Mattu was one of Britain’s leading heart doctors before he was suspended by his NHS trust after raising concerns about deaths on his ward

The new head of the NHS is to meet one of the country’s most prominent whistleblowers who has won a decade-long fight to clear his name.

Raj Mattu, one of Britain’s leading heart doctors before he was suspended by his NHS trust after raising concerns about deaths on his ward, was found to have been unfairly dismissed in a landmark employment tribunal last week.

His case became a cause célèbre after officials at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust fought a 12-year legal and public relations battle to gag him at a reported cost of between £6 million and £10 million.

Dr Mattu, 54, said that Simon Stevens, who became the chief executive of NHS England earlier this month and pledged radical, patient-centred reforms, has arranged to meet him to discuss the way the health service handles whistleblowing.

He said that he would show Mr Stevens how NHS officials tried to squash dissent, and that he would press for a panel of whistleblowers to be consulted about any changes to the system.

“It’s time the NHS senior executives found out what the relatively senior managers do,” Dr Mattu said. “They are faced with a situation where they can embrace my concerns and we can work together to solve it, or [they are] so concerned about their own position that they try to discredit me.”

He accused NHS officials of compiling dossiers of allegations against whistleblowers so their claims would be lost at an employment tribunal, and said neither he nor the nurses who raised complaints about overcrowding in the Walsgrave Hospital, Coventry, had ever been interviewed about it.

It has also emerged that Sir David Nicholson, the previous head of NHS England, dismissed concerns about Dr Mattu’s whistleblowing as an “employment matter” in 2010.

In a letter seen by The Times, Sir David wrote to another NHS whistleblower in the West Midlands, Dr Rita Pal, saying that the Department of Health would not intervene. “While I note the concerns you have expressed, this is an employment matter between Dr Mattu and the University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, and as such it would not be appropriate for the department to comment or become involved,” he wrote.

A spokesman for NHS England said: “On his very first day as NHS England chief executive three weeks ago, Simon Stevens called for a new culture of openness in the NHS, and argued that whistleblowers sometimes save patients’ lives by courageously speaking out. Since then he has continued to meet with and listen to patients, carers and frontline NHS staff, and has asked to meet Dr Mattu in the near future.”

Dr Mattu has also approached Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, for a meeting, but has yet to receive a reply.

The cardiologist said that his career had been “destroyed” after he moved from a research post in London to work in Coventry, his home town.

Before the move, he had published a much-cited article on a genetic trait among people in Caerphilly that reduced the risk of heart disease by more than a quarter.

In December 1999 he warned staff at the Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry that a policy of putting five heart patients in four-bed bays had prevented essential equipment being used to save the life of a 35-year-old man.

He made his worries public in 2001 after the trust’s chief executive told the media that the policy was not causing unnecessary deaths, and he was suspended six months later.

The trust brought more than 200 allegations against him, including bullying, fraud and sexual impropriety, all of which were dismissed by the General Medical Council. Friends of the heart doctor said the trust had also hired a PR team and private detectives in their campaign against his reinstatement.

He was restored to his job in 2010, but dismissed a year later while being treated for a debilitating auto-immune disease affecting his liver and lungs.

After the ruling that Dr Mattu had been unfairly dismissed last week, the trust said in a statement that it would “continue to support all our staff to raise issues of concern in our effort to provide continuous improvement in our services to patients”

NHS whistleblower wants her job back to encourage others

Penny Gates  is  still out of work after taking on a hospital chief who barred her from other jobs in the NHSPenny Gates is still out of work after taking on a hospital chief who barred her from other jobs in the NHS

A whistleblower at the centre of an NHS nepotism scandal has said she must be offered her job back to show that the health service is truly welcoming of those who raise concerns about wrongdoing.

Penny Gates and Clare Sardari are still out of work after taking on a hospital chief who barred them from other jobs in the NHS. Ms Sardari said fighting the case was “the most awful time of my life” and that she had lost her identity along with her job, but she insisted she would do the same again, urging other whistleblowers to come forward.

They spoke to The Times after a tribunal found that hospital bosses tried to force them to stay silent and covered up an internal report to protect the chief executive of South Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, Paula Vasco-Knight, who is also a national spokeswoman for equality and diversity. Last night a meeting was held to consider her position but failed to reach a decision. It will reconvene next Wednesday.

Dr Vasco-Knight was accused of hiring her daughter’s boyfriend, Nick Schenk, for a role for which he had little experience, without admitting the connection. An employment tribunal found that she ought to have disclosed the relationship and failure to do so breached the NHS managers’ code of conduct and her “duty of good faith to her employer”. The hospital “adopted an astonishing course of action which in our unanimous view amounted to a dishonest attempt to suppress the findings” of a critical internal review.

Mrs Gates said yesterday that she had thought about raising her concerns after Dr Vasco-Knight and Mr Schenk took time off together. “We put two and two together and realised this gentleman went to Paula’s daughter’s graduation. I went to see my line manager and said, ‘I’m absolutely horrified’. And she said she knew. I thought, ‘Goodness, I don’t know what to do’.

The manager, Adrienne Murphy, warned the pair that they would lose their jobs “through dirty means” if they did not keep quiet, the tribunal heard.

Eventually both took sick leave, before resigning when hospital bosses refused to let them return. “I’d never been off sick at all before so to be signed off with acute anxiety was distressing in itself,” Mrs Gates said.

A tribunal will rule on compensation but Mrs Gates said: “The bottom line is we don’t have a job. I don’t think that’s a very good message for anyone in the NHS who thinks they should be a whistleblower.”

If Dr Vasco-Knight leaves, Mrs Gates is open to returning. “You go through what Clare and I have gone through and you get your job back — that would be a superb message to whistleblowers.

Ms Sardari is not so sure. She said: “A big part of me is saying, ‘No, you can never trust the NHS again’. ”

Leading figures joined calls last night for the government to review past cases and pay compensation for legal fees and lost income running to hundreds of thousands of pounds each. Such a move could open the floodgates to retrospective claims.
Charlotte Leslie, a Tory member of the health select committee, accused NHS directors of victimising whistleblowers. “The precedent that has been set is that if you raise patient-safety concerns you can lose your career and your reputation. While these historic cases are still unaddressed there will be a feeling that no one can raise concerns with any safety at all,” she said.
Ann Clwyd, a Welsh Labour MP who co-wrote a report on the NHS complaints system last year after her husband died in a Cardiff hospital, said that injustice had been done. “I would obviously support them looking at it afresh,” she added.
Patients First, a group representing nurses, doctors and other NHS staff who blew the whistle, said that it wanted to see historical cases reinvestigated and a judge-led inquiry set up by the government. Jennie Fecitt, its spokeswoman who was dismissed as a nurse after warning her managers that a colleague was unqualified, said it was time for the health service to stop “shooting the messenger”.
Mr Stevens, who took over as chief executive of NHS England last month, has spoken to several whistleblowers and arranged to meet Raj Mattu, a heart doctor whose victory in an employment tribunal has renewed hopes of a change of culture.
The government has brought in Helene Donnelly, a nurse who made almost 100 complaints about the treatment of patients at Stafford Hospital, as a senior adviser to the NHS. A new phoneline has been set up for whistleblowers.
However, David Drew, a paediatrician who was sacked from Walsall Manor Hospital after warning that patients were being put at risk, said that there was “political resistance” to understanding why NHS trusts tended to push whistleblowers into employment tribunals rather than taking their complaints seriously.
Narinder Kapur, a distinguished brain doctor who lost his job as head of neuropsychology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge after whistleblowing, called for English whistleblowers to be moved to another job in the NHS if they are sacked, as happens in Wales.
Bernard Jenkin, Conservative chairman of the public administration committee, which published a report on the “culture of denial” that led to the Mid Staffordshire hospital crisis, said yesterday: “Where whistleblowers have evidently raised legitimate concerns which were not being addressed and they have suffered as a consequence, these cases should be revisited.”
The Department of Health said that it was “absolutely clear that NHS staff who have the courage and integrity to speak out in the interests of patient safety must be protected and listened to”, but it was still considering the whistleblowers’ request.
“The issues faced by historic whistleblowers are extremely complex. We have received the letter and are currently considering the issues raised carefully.”
Mr Stevens said: “While no one can undo the past, in future the NHS needs to be much clearer about separating employment disputes from staff concerns about quality of care. NHS employers and regulators now urgently need to think about how best to do this.”

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