The most effective way to silence witnesses is fear.
In the vast majority of scandals in the NHS, bullying is the core problem; it’s not periphery. Mistakes happen, however, if people are too afraid to speak up, be that about negligent care, “Whistle In The
Wind,” or about the imposition of natural childbirth inappropriately – Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust, hundreds of lives can and have been lost. Alternatively, if people are empowered to challenge inappropriate behaviour at its inception – at the point of intimidation and whistle-blowers are valued, scandal is avoided, and best practice is maintained.
High-profile employers like the NHS attract bullies because they confer the one thing that bullies want more than anything else: status. One of the most shocking books I have read about the NHS is “Whistle in the Wind” by surgeon Peter Duffy, and I’m halfway through his second book “Smoke & Mirrors.” They read like thrillers, but it’s a true story in which a doctor fighting negligent practices has his career in the NHS ended as a result. Peter Duffy continued his career working on the Isle of Man. In the first book, he has to take Morecambe Bay’s NHS Trust to an employment tribunal – which he wins. At the
start of “Smoke and Mirrors,” he is safely working outside the NHS; what possible harm could Morecambe Bay’s NHS Trust try to subject him to now?
Using previously disproved evidence, changed testimony, and even the composition of fraudulent emails – purporting to be from Peter Duffy, Morecambe Bay NHS Trust tries to lay the blame for the original negligence at Peter’s door when he was the doctor who tried to help the patient, Peter Read, even outside his working hours. However, there are still some angels in that trust,
“Dear Mr Peter Duffy
Hope you are well.
I am a nurse. I know you very well.
You are a brave person and have stood up for your patients.
But have suffered a lot.
Just to inform you that XXX and
XXX have employed 2 staff from band 4 and to band 7 and asked them to hide all
your files and the concerns that you have raised about the managers and
directors. They are also doing this for XXX XXX XXX is another person
involved. They are doing this for CQC so that they don’t have access to all
these documents and your concerns.
XXX says, ‘He damaged us, and I will make sure to bring him to court and will not sit until he is jailed.’
Wish you well.
Sorry can’t give my name as I may lose my job.”
The new ‘evidence’ of Peter’s ‘negligence’ is reported to the GMC.
“Rather oddly, as well as asking if I recognised the emails, and in response to my reply, the GMC were noticeably reluctant to disclose exactly how, during what was supposed to be a highly secret and confidential NHS England enquiry, such explosive new evidence had ended up almost instantaneously in the hands of the medical regulator.”
Is the GMC aware of trusts fraudulently reporting whistle-blowers to damage their careers? How many such cases are found to be without foundation? What sanctions are imposed on trusts who engage in this type of behaviour?
There is rather more than an underfunding problem with the NHS – the core problem is bullying.
Those responsible in Morecambe Bay’s Trust need to be held accountable as an example of what should happen to those who bully to conceal negligent practices and further fraudulently try to blame the whistle-blower.
Something has to be done to effectively protect whistle-blowers so that those who reveal problems with patient care are prized as they should be.
#WhistleInTheWind #SmokeAndMirrors #PeterDuffy #NHSHeroWhistleBlowers