“It’s getting dark, too dark to see,
Feel I’m Knocking on Heaven’s Door”
To Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP Secretary of State for Health House of Commons London SW1A 0AA
Dear Mr Hunt,
An apology and practical redress
Following the example of Mr Gary Walker, I write to ask you for “an apology and practical redress”.
I refer you to the Complaints and Raising Concerns Report – Fourth Report, by the Health Select Committee, Published 24 January 2015: Recommendation at paragraph 115 “We expect the NHS to respond in a timely, honest and open manner to patients, and we must expect the same for staff. We recommend that there should be a programme to identify whistleblowers who have suffered serious harm and whose actions are proven to have been vindicated, and provide them with an apology and practical redress.”
The above suggests that you will be looking for three requirements:
• A whistleblower
• Who has suffered serious harm
• That whistleblower is vindicated
I propose the following definitions:
• To be a “whistleblower” you need only raise concerns qualifying for protection under Section 43 of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. There is no legal requirement for a finding in a tribunal merely the existence of the qualifying disclosure.
• To have suffered “serious harm” Resignation on declared principles with resultant loss of income, pension, career, status, and employment prospects should qualify.
• To be “vindicated” should require a finding either from a tribunal or court judgement or the finding of subsequent inquiries, CQC investigations, or police investigations.
• Did I disclose concerns qualifying for protection under Section 43 of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998?
Yes. I made 2 qualifying* disclosures, concerning serious risks to the lives of patients, which were both ignored and not investigated. These failures were admitted by the Trust in two separate Formal Grievance Hearings.
*Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. Protected disclosures. Disclosures qualifying for protection:
(1)In this Part a “qualifying disclosure” means any disclosure of information which, in the reasonable belief of the worker making the disclosure, tends to show one or more of the following—
(a)that a criminal offence has been committed, is being committed or is likely to be committed,
(b)that a person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with any legal obligation to which he is subject,
(d)that the health or safety of any individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered,
(f)that information tending to show any matter falling within any one of the preceding paragraphs has been, is being or is likely to be deliberately concealed.
• Did I suffer “serious harm” with resultant loss of income, pension, career, status, and employment prospects?
Yes. Morecambe Bay Trust failed to initiate investigations upon my first reporting of concerns and also after admitting those failures at Grievance Hearings. They admitted causing me a stress injury incurred as a result of these and other failures. They failed to demonstrate to me that my upheld Grievances had brought about investigation of my concerns or any improvement in the handling of staff concerns. I will not take any part in a conspiracy to convince patients that they are being cared for while management fail to prioritise safety.
“Take this damned badge off o’me,
I can’t use it anymore.”
Consequently, on that principle, I was obliged to resign my position as Staff Nurse with University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust in 2009, with the expressed intention of having Employment Tribunal examine the failings of management at Royal Lancaster Infirmary to protect the safety of patients. Under the duress of having been cut off financially, while remaining incapable of work due to the stress injury caused to me, I was coerced to give the Trust time to look for alternative employment for me, although they failed to offer anything acceptable. After spending £9000 on legal fees, I was advised that by conceding to that delay, I had been tricked into “continuing my employment”, in legal terms. I could not then complain to Tribunal about the admitted breaches, because I could be deemed to have accepted those breaches by ‘continuing my employment’ in that way. I was obliged to enter into a Compromise Agreement with a “Gagging Clause”. I was made the subject of further harassment when my applications for Renewal of Nurse Registration were twice “lost” and not submitted by Trust managers resulting in my NMC Nurse Registration being lapsed. Consequently, I have lost income, pension, career, status, and employment prospects.
• Was I vindicated by the findings of subsequent inquiries and/or police investigations?
Yes. The Trust admitted failing to investigate my concerns (among other failures) and causing injury to me in two upheld Formal Grievance Reports. The consequences for patient safety by my being silenced can only be guessed at, but neglect of safety at Trust hospitals has since become a matter of public disgrace.
By 2011 Morecambe Bay Trust had the highest mortality rate in the country.
The Morecambe Bay Investigation into the deaths of mothers and babies declared “Today, the name of Morecambe Bay has been added to a roll of dishonoured NHS names that stretches from Ely Hospital to Mid Staffordshire.”
The Trust, now in “Special Measures”, remains the subject of ongoing Police investigation.
You yourself found reason to tell The House, “The Royal Lancaster Infirmary is not the main focus of the Kirkup report, but of course as part of the same Trust it suffered from the same management failings. There are Members of this House who have had problems at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and found that they were not listened to when they made complaints, because proper management was not in place.”
Sir Robert Francis, in his Freedom to Speak Up review published on 11 February 2015, recommended “principle 12″ in which he said: Action 12.1 NHS England, the NHS Trust Development Authority and Monitor should jointly devise and establish a support scheme for NHS workers and former NHS workers whose performance is sound and who can demonstrate that they are having difficulty finding employment in the NHS as result of having made protected disclosures. Action 12.2 All NHS organisations should actively support a scheme to help current and former NHS workers whose performance is sound to find alternative employment in the NHS.
Will you now provide an apology and practical redress to me? Will you now ensure that all whistleblowers will get an apology and practical redress? I await your response and would be delighted to meet with you to discuss this.
With thanks to Gary Walker ex-CEO United Lincolnshire NHS Trust.
“Spare a bit o’ Practical Redress for a whistleblower, Guvnor?”