The boss of a hospital trust being investigated by police for alleged negligence over 40 patient deaths has been accused of sending a hypocritical email urging staff to have the courage to raise concerns despite the dismissal of whistleblowing doctors.
The investigation, Operation Bramber, was sparked by two consultants who lost their jobs after raising concerns about deaths and patient harm in the general surgery and neurosurgery departments of the Royal Sussex County hospital in Brighton.
In an email to staff on Friday, the chief executive, George Findlay, said the trust was committed to learning from its mistakes. He said: “When things do go wrong, we must be open, learn and improve together. That openness is how we give people courage to raise concerns and make a positive difference to patient care.”
James Akinwunmi, a consultant neurosurgeon who was unfairly dismissed by the trust in 2014 after he raised the alarm about patient safety, said Findlay’s email was “laughable”.
He told the Guardian: “Whistleblowers, including myself, have done exactly what he is encouraging in the email and they were sacked for it, so you can draw your own conclusions. I suspect what they are doing is damage limitation. Instead, they should be dealing with surgeons who have been a problem for years.”
Another more recent whistleblower, who did not want to be named, expressed incredulity at Findlay’s claim that he wanted to encourage staff to raise concerns.
They said: “The email is hypocritical. How can staff have the ‘courage to raise concerns’ after what has happened to those who have? Those brave enough to blow the whistle about patient safety have been sanctioned, lost their job and had their lives destroyed.”
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Source: The Guardian, 3 December 2023