The toll whistleblowing takes on the whistleblower

Just when Peter Duffy should have been safe, a whole new level of games begin!

In the second and hopefully last instalment of Peter Duffy’s Kafkaesque nightmare fight with Morecambe Bay’s NHS Trust, he again has to decide to fight or run. The following is his account of the toll that the seven-year battle is taking on him. This follows the Trust presenting new ‘evidence’ in the form of emails that Peter supposedly sent, incriminating himself in the original negligent death of Peter Read. Questioning his own competence, Peter makes the decision to ring Peter Read’s family and apologise. This is a highly intelligent man being gaslit because he still expects people involved with the original negligence and cover up to do the right thing! 


This is a horribly common mistake. If people are willing to lie, to try to destroy your career once and you win don’t expect them to have seen the light. No they are likely to be vengeful.


“I was braced for an explosion of anger, hate and resentment from Karen. It was, after all, only human to react with fury and rage under such circumstances, especially after what had already happened to
her father, and when it might appear that I’d been very selective with the facts. Karen’s reaction couldn’t have been more different from my expectations. But in some ways and having already accepted that I fully deserved a very generous dose of abuse, it just made my distress worse.

Well, whatever you did or didn’t do on that Friday or Monday, you were still the only person who showed an interest or did anything meaningful to help. And you’re the only person to make any kind of meaningful attempt to
apologise too, and to help us put together what went on. So, we’re not angry with you and we still appreciate the things you tried to do…

And the very last thing we’d want would be for you to do something silly; like resign and hand in your GMC registration over this…

How could I have been so casual and careless, I raged at myself? I’d made such a fuss whilst at UHMBT about the need for immediate surgery in cases just like this… Time and again I’d pointed out the dangers of gambling with lives, knowingly neglecting cases exactly like this leaving them for someone else to sort out. But here I was, having criticised others, and now being exposed as an utter hypocrite, liar and neglectful doctor myself. Not only had I let down a patient and family, I’d betrayed the standards of my profession, my own family, friends and my speciality.

What a truly, utterly hopeless surgeon I’d turned out to be; a liability and hazard to my patients and a proper disgrace to my profession and my mentors, walking away from and forgetting about a needy and desperately sick man.

Self-loathing turned to deep, focused anger. How could I possibly live with myself after this? And with a possible criminal record too… How could I ever again face my family, friends and those ex-colleagues who’d so loyally supported me?

I’ve no idea how far, or for how long I walked that evening, until the distant grinding of gears and clatter of an accelerating diesel engine tripped me out of my distress and introspection. Instinctively squeezing into a narrow, recessed doorway in the alley, I watched over my shoulder as the lights of a
large, squat and heavy-looking builder’s truck swung ponderously round the end of the ginnel and rapidly picked up speed toward me.

He’s giving it some stick….

And then the dark and self-destructive impulses of the last few days coalesced and melded together.

It was immediately, abundantly clear how everything could be instantly resolved.


The vehicle accelerated towards me, but it seemed, in my mind, to be slowing at the same time. My thoughts snapped into focus. It was a moment, above all, of supreme, crystalline clarity and certainty.

Here was the ultimate way to settle this and to escape from this terrible trap that I’d managed to ensnare myself in. A brief, brilliant, split-second flash of pain; appropriate punishment for my terrible lapse in standards, and then endless, painless wonderful blissful sleep. A life for a life. No more self-loathing, remorse, hopelessness, responsibility and miserable self-contempt. No need to torture myself any longer with endless re-runs of my greatest career failure. No need to burden down or ever face again the families, friends, relatives and colleagues that I’d let down so badly. No public humiliation, GMC investigations, prosecution, more hostile cross-examinations, criminal record and a possible jail sentence.

Better to end it now. A quick clean finish. An instant, definitive, and legal process did it for me. The unfaceable future forever erased; an eternity of oblivion, and the ultimate act of honour and contrition; perfect solution and release.

It all seemed so utterly correct, logical and alluring.

Beautiful even.


Dawn’s winter sunlight on a crystalline, frozen lawn.
The soft, fragrant breath of a summer’s breeze on a high Lakeland fell.
Laughter, play and innocent cuddles from an as-yet unborn grandchild. A fine,
chilled wine. Birds singing into a vivid Lancashire sunset. The smell of fresh
rain on spring bluebells and wild garlic. The soft-stroked, warm velvety coat
of a cat, asleep in the warm summer sunshine. The sunny thrill of a skylark’s
beautiful song on high, remote Yorkshire moors.


So sad. Did I really want to forever say goodbye to these things…?

And what if I survived, but was left horribly mutilated and injured?

But then again, that so-compelling allure of permanent release and unburdening; nothing but darkness and emptiness, an endless infinity of blank, trouble-free and painless pages.


In that last frozen, eternal instant, I was looking down from above; watching myself, huddled, alone and cowering in a shadowy cottage doorway.


It all seemed so exquisitely balanced…



THE SLIPSTREAM FROM THE TRUCK was brutal enough to almost tear the beanie from my head. Squashed into
the shadowed doorway in a dark, navy jacket and black woollen hat, I was unsure as to whether the speeding truck driver ever even saw me in the late evening darkness. But, in that last life-long, jumbled, split eternal-second of commitment, cowardice, fear and guilt, I’d seen a new vision.

A broken, horribly mutilated and mangled, torn, crushed and bloodied corpse; unrecognisable, with limbs smashed and askew. Funeral; distraught family and relatives. More lives blighted. Another avoidable death.


And those inconsistencies…

Niche were clear that the emails appeared genuine. They’re highly trained and extremely experienced investigators, after all. And they’ve put Peter Read’s case and the evidence relating to it at the very epicentre of their investigations… They must’ve done a huge amount of due diligence on these emails.

…but what if they were wrong?And I’d been deceived into throwing my life away over a lie?


And Peter Read’s family? Karen had been so frightened that I might do something like this. Would they have wanted such an ending?”


So Peter Duffy decides to fight on – discovering that Morecombe Bay’s NHS Trust had not only created the emails that incriminated him in the negligence which ended Peter Read’s life, but had also illegally deleted Peter Duffy’s email account at the trust. This meant not only was there was no way to trace the original emails but also investigators had no access to all Peter’s original concerns. The trust would be able to say we’ve given you everything we have!


Someone has to make this into a drama; it’s brilliant, it’s important it’s REAL!

I wonder how many other NHS whistleblowers have given in, how many have ended their own lives; and of those, how many coroners have investigated what was happening to them in their NHS workplace?

#WhistleInTheWind #SmokeAndMirrors #PeterDuffy #NHSHeroWhistleblowers #WhistleblowerSuicides

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