Lancaster Guardian 04/12/2014:
“A whistleblower giving evidence in the Morecambe Bay Investigation into maternal and neonatal services provided by the district’s health trust has called on former colleagues to stand up and be counted.
Russell Dunkeld, a former staff nurse working for the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT) at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, said that he had given evidence to Dr Bill Kirkup, who is leading the inquiry.
Mr Dunkeld, from Morecambe, said that he felt “supported and comfortable” throughout the proceedings, and urged other would be whistleblowers to come forward.
The inquiry was set up by the Department for Health last year, but works independently.
It was launched to investigate the series of deaths of mothers and newborn babies in the maternity and neonatal services unit at Furness General Hospital between January 2004 and June 2013.
Several reviews took place during this period. However, these reviews have not given those affected confidence that all of the facts have been heard and all of the underlying issues have been resolved.
Mr Dunkeld said: “Dr Kirkup…gave me a very warm and reassuring welcome.
“I felt supported and comfortable throughout the proceedings. I found no reason for whistleblowers to be anxious about telling the Investigation what they witnessed in complete confidence.
“In the words of Sir David Nicholson, with reference to exposing issues of patient safety, ‘gagging clauses are utterly unacceptable’.
“I was given the impression that the panel sincerely intend to achieve a genuinely effective result and I am sure that everyone will be hoping for that.
“If there are anxious whistleblowers out there, they might care to talk to me about their concerns.”
The investigation will focus on the actions, systems and processes of the Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. It will also investigate the actions of regulators and commissioners where those actions affected the safety of maternity and neonatal services provided by the Trust.
Dr Bill Kirkup CBE