NHS chief gagged - prevented from speaking out over safety concerns (mid-Staffs related)

(24 Posts)
Solopower1 Sat 16-Feb-13 23:38:35

Edam agree with what you wrote about managers. Sometimes I forget how many good ones there are around - because if they are good, everything goes well, and you don't notice them.

In the Guardian on Thursday there was an article about how the government is proposing, in the wake of Leveson, to make it easier for the police to seize confidential material from journalists.

This would also have implications for whistle-blowers, because if they contact the press, the journalists could be forced to hand over their material, which could identify the whistle-blowers.

'The plans would also weaken protection for confidential material from whistleblowers. Journalists would have to show the material did not come from people who had breached confidentiality agreements or who may have committed crimes in revealing the information to a reporter. Such material if handed over could reveal the identity of sources.'

Surely we need more, not less, freedom to tell it as it is.

www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/feb/13/whistleblowers-press-new-police-powers

edam Sat 16-Feb-13 23:22:44

Chief exec is top of the tree in their own trust in terms of running the organisation, and will report to a chair. BUT the trust is answerable to the SHA and the SHA is answerable to the Dept of Health. And it's getting really complicated with this governments yet-another-round-of-NHS-'reforms'. Basically the NHS Commissioning Board, led by one David Nicholson, is in charge and will merrily boss all the hospital trusts and commissioning groups around. Fat chance of the command-and-control model disappearing when Nicholson, Hakin and their breed are still around.

Good managers are a huge asset. They can organise things so the doctors and nurses and other health professionals can work at their very best. So the hospital is efficient in the right sense of the word - everything works sensibly with the best use made of people and resources. Bad managers are a disaster. Sadly Nicholson and his ilk are bad managers.

Solopower1 Sat 16-Feb-13 23:15:11

So much to read here - thanks for great links.

ParsingFancy Sat 16-Feb-13 13:33:37

Btw, I'm absolutely delighted to hear that your part of the NHS does respond properly, NL. I'd like to believe this is true of most of it.

amillionyears Sat 16-Feb-13 13:31:38

I always thought a chief executive was top of the tree.

So who sits on a hospital trust?

I am all for appropriate whistleblowing.

Anything secret can be damaging, and in a health situation, people can die.

ParsingFancy Sat 16-Feb-13 13:29:49

I'm still working my way through that article meddie linked to, by Dr Phil Hammond and Andrew Bousfield, entitled Shoot the Messenger.

I hadn't realised, among other things, just how many people had attempted to warn GOSH management about the dangerous situation in Haringey that led to Baby P's death.

ParsingFancy Sat 16-Feb-13 13:25:51

"Where I've raised concerns I know things have been done to correct that."

And that's the point, isn't it?

If, when you raised concerns, nothing happened - or worse, you were made to feel you were the problem for raising them - it would be a different kettle of fish.

I work in the NHS. I'm pretty sure that if I were to circumvent normal procedure I would be disciplined - so I can take concerns to line manager etc but if I went to the press there would be some heavy consequences. Nothing has ever come up that would tempt me to try this though. Quite the opposite actually. Where I've raised concerns I know things have been done to correct that.

kimorama Sat 16-Feb-13 11:59:50

I knew pweople who worked in NHS your contract barred you from whistleblowing or just complaining.

edam Sat 16-Feb-13 08:53:18

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt now warns NHS employers against gagging clauses after the Walker case. Let's hope he means it, and his instructions aren't being undermined by David Nicholson, the Dept of Health, Strategic Health Authorities, Monitor and the NHS Commissioning Board et al. Because often the Health Secretary says one thing in public, yet management do another...

edam Sat 16-Feb-13 08:48:29

^some^ good news here...

diddl - the man didn't just lose his job, he lost his career. No way he can work in the NHS again. He has children and he needed to keep a roof over their heads. £500k is a lot of money, but it's probably 4x his salary as a chief exec of a very large and complicated organisation with an annual budget running into billions.

Btw, I don't earn enough to pay higher rate tax, so my POV is not a 'well-off people stick together and don't know the price of a pint of milk' thing at all.

He's very far from the only chief exec or senior person to be hounded out of the NHS, btw.

People lower down the hierarchy who stick their heads above the parapet tend not to be paid off, however. They tend to be bullied and harassed and be victimised with false compaints to the regulatory bodies. I've known this happen to everyone from medical secretaries to nurses and doctors - even consultants.

diddl Sat 16-Feb-13 08:40:27

I would have more sympathy if he hadn´t taken the 500,000 to keep quiet.

But then doesn´t that constitute blackmail/a bribe?

The whole thing stinks.

Instead of covering up the crap that´s happening, wouldn´t you think that they´d be glad to get rid of people like Nicholson who cost the NHS such a lot of money but don´t do a good job?

ParsingFancy Sat 16-Feb-13 08:17:38

Getting on thread, as I'll happily throw my ant-like weight into anything I can actually help with.

Flatbread Sat 16-Feb-13 08:12:21

I think we need stronger action than that. It is not sufficient that he resigns. He needs to be fired AND criminally prosecuted.

Whether it is the banks or BBC or NHS, these people get away with just a slap on the wrist. The politicians are interested in the status quo. It is up to us (and thanks to Julie for her tireless work) to hold them accountable.

Can we not set up a public interest group to get lawyers to pro-bono fight to get civil lawsuits against these guys? Let them feel hounded and personally liable for their actions?

edam Fri 15-Feb-13 22:29:03
edam Fri 15-Feb-13 22:23:31

Fantastic link, Meddie thank you. Afraid I've been frantic at work all day so couldn't get back to this thread. Phil Hammond has done some great work supporting whistleblowers - it was his Private Eye column that first exposed the Bristol babies scandal, when incompetent heart surgeons were merrily continuing to kill infants. The whistleblower in that case, anaesthetist Steve Bolsin, had to leave the UK, he was so demonised - last I heard, he was in Australia.

What can we do about it? Spread the word. Write to our MPs. Sign the petition on Change.org calling for (IIRC) David Nicholson to be made to resign - he's the current chief exec of the NHS who was responsible for Mid-Staffs. For 'encouraging' the trust to focus on ££££ by sacking nurses and never mind the patients who were killed. Support Cure the NHS, Julie Bailey's campaign group (Julie is at the forefront of the families bereaved by incompetence and neglect at mid-Staffs - without her and families like her, and their tireless campaigning, the whole thing would have been covered up.)

Will see if I can find links for the petition and for Cure the NHS...

Flatbread Fri 15-Feb-13 16:23:04

Omg, the link has made me so angry

Isn't there something we can do to fight this corrupt system?

Solopower1 Fri 15-Feb-13 15:12:31

Great link, Meddie, thanks for that.
<Going to make a cup of tea before I read the rest of it!>

Flatbread Fri 15-Feb-13 15:10:22

I think it is shocking. All these people at the to should be criminally prosecuted.

Gagging orders in NHS is illegal, afaik. The people who gave the gagging order should be prosecuted.

In this case, it is not enough for people to resign ( although no one has), they must be fired and criminally prosecuted.

Also don't understand why the head of NHS and top managers are from non-clinical backgrounds. These top positions should be filled by doctors with management experience, not pencil-pusher bureaucrats

A gagging clause is a standard part of a compromise agreement and a compromise agreement is what you get when 'they' want you out and you won't go without being pushed. I agree that clauses like that shouldn't be used to conceal mistakes but I think this happens a HUGE amount and it will be nigh on impossible to eradicate it.

meddie Fri 15-Feb-13 15:07:23
meddie Fri 15-Feb-13 15:07:11

It takes an extremely strong and courageous person to speak up about issues. because you are witch hunted and hounded from your job.
http://drphilhammond.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Shoot_the_Mesenger_FINAL.pdf

This is what staff face with if they raise their heads above the parapet and if you lose your license to practise you are screwed, your career is gone, you become unemployable as the NHS is a monopoly.

Solopower1 Fri 15-Feb-13 15:04:26

Yes, this is all very worrying. No wonder there aren't more whistle-blowers if someone at the top of the tree can be treated like this.

I suppose the local health authority is trying to gag him because they are worried about being sacked from their jobs for mismanagement? But presumably, health professionals are being urged to choose targets over patient safety because they can't afford to do both. Then would it be fair to sack them if they are simply not receiving enough money from the govt?

I would have thought it would be in everyone's interests if the problems in the NHS were brought out into the open so that they can be addressed. But we must blame the people responsible - imo, the ones at the top who decide how much money to give the NHS.

And if something like this can happen in the NHS, how much more secrecy would there be in a privatised health system?

edam Fri 15-Feb-13 13:20:15

chief executive sacked then gagged by lawyers for raising concerns about patient safety. After the health authority got rid of him, death rates rose in a horrible echo of the Mid- Staffs scandal - excess deaths at his old trust are now being investigated. (Barbara Hakin, the boss responsible for ordering him to ignore patient safety and focus on targets instead, for sacking him and gagging him, is currently v senior in the Dept of Health).

He finally broke silence and spoke to the Today programme, only to get a threatening letter from the Trusts's lawyers. Outrageous that anyone raising concerns about patient safety shoudl be stopped from speaking out - not only him but his family and the witnesses who were prepared to talk at his industrial tribunal. And very possibly illegal anyway.

Who the fuck do these lawyers think they are, and who the fuck has instructed them - in the week after the Francis report into Mid-Staffs called for gagging clauses to be banned? The sheer effrontery is astonishing.

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