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Blowing whistle on trust CEO ‘hardest thing I’ve had to do’, says his successor

A trust chief who blew the whistle on her predecessor’s ‘aggressive’ behaviour and lack of interest in patient safety says it was the hardest thing she has had to do in her career.

Janelle Holmes, who is now chief executive of Wirral University Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust, was among four Wirral University Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust senior executives who wrote to regulators in 2017 about the behaviour of the trust’s then CEO David Allison.

They said he would react with “dismay and aggression” to concerns being raised about service quality, and staff were afraid to speak up as a result. The intervention led to Mr Allison’s departure and a subsequent independent investigation found “deep systemic cultural issues”. Mr Allison always denied his behaviour was inappropriate.

In an interview with HSJ, Ms Holmes talked of the difficulties in taking those actions, and the subsequent efforts to overhaul the trust’s culture.

She said: “From a personal integrity perspective, it was the right thing to do…and I [also] felt I had a personal responsibility to make it right afterwards.

“But yes, it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do.”

She said: “I remember watching Sir David Dalton (the ex-Salford CEO) probably more than 10 years ago… say ‘we are harming patients’.. it was like ’you can’t say that’.

“But actually [there was a] complete sea change and [it became] an organisation where [speaking out] was the right thing to do. That’s the only way you can ensure you’re delivering good quality high standard services. If you’re acknowledging mistakes happen, you’re learning from them, you’re correcting things… I think that then starts to shape how our clinicians and staff feel.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 12 May 2022


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