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Doctors at West Suffolk hospital 'too scared' to report safety issues

Doctors at a hospital accused of bullying its staff have told the NHS care regulator that they are too scared to report lapses in patient safety in case they end up facing disciplinary action. 

The Guardian revealed earlier this week that West Suffolk hospital stands accused by its own medics of secrecy, bullying and intimidation after it demanded they take fingerprint tests in its effort to identify a whistleblower.

Senior staff have privately passed on serious concerns to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) about the behaviour of the trust’s leadership. They used confidential meetings with CQC inspectors, who visited twice in the autumn, to explain why they lack confidence in Steve Dunn, the trust’s chief executive, Dr Nick Jenkins, its medical director, and Sheila Childerhouse, who chairs the hospital’s board.

The CQC is due to publish its report into the trust, including the performance of its leadership, in January.

 “Staff are scared that they’ll face disciplinary action [if they raise concerns about patient safety],” said one doctor, who declined to be named.

“As a result of recent events I can’t imagine that anyone at the trust will feel comfortable to speak out or whistleblow in the future. I fear that any future patient safety concerns will not be expressed and will simply be brushed under the carpet.”

The trust demanded fingerprints and handwriting samples after a staff member wrote anonymously to the family of Susan Warby, who died in August 2018 after undergoing treatment at the hospital, which was investigated as a “serious incident”.

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Source: The Guardian, 11 December 2019


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