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Found 276 results
  1. News Article
    A health minister has called for more staff to take part in an inquiry into deaths at a mental health trust. An independent review into 1,500 deaths at the Essex Partnership University Trust (EPUT) over a 21-year period was launched in 2020. It emerged earlier this month that 11 out of 14,000 staff members had come forward to give evidence to an independent inquiry. The trust said it was encouraging staff to take part in the inquiry. During a parliamentary debate, Health Minister Neil O'Brien said the trust was being given a "last chance" before the government intervened and instigated a statutory inquiry. A statutory inquiry would allow staff to be compelled to give evidence. In December, a further 500 deaths were made known to the review chair, Dr Geraldine Strathdee. She said the inquiry could not continue without full legal powers. Chelmsford MP Vicky Ford said she had been told by the chief executive of EPUT that staff were "very scared" to give evidence. Read full story Source: BBC News, 31 January 2023
  2. News Article
    Children came to “significant” harm due to chronically low staffing levels at scandal-hit mental health hospitals, whistleblowers have said. In a third exposé into allegations of poor care at private hospitals run by The Huntercombe Group, former employees have claimed that staffing levels were so low “every day” that patients were neglected, resulting in: Patients as young as 13 being force-fed while restrained. Left alone to self-harm instead of being supervised. Left to “wet themselves” because staff couldn’t supervise toilet visits. One staff member, Rebecca Smith, said she was left in tears after having to restrain and force-feed a patient. Following a series of investigations by The Independent and Sky News, 50 patients came forward with allegations of “systemic abuse” and poor care, spanning two decades at children’s mental health hospitals run by the organisation. The government has since launched a “rapid review” into inpatient mental health units across the country following the newspaper’s reporting. Read full story Source: The Independent, 28 January 2023
  3. News Article
    A trust that sacked a whistleblower who had warned them about potential patient harm from a new procedure has been told to pay her more than £200,000. Jasna Macanovic won her case against Portsmouth Hospitals University Trust last year after the employment tribunal found board members had broken employment rules, including by telling her she would get a good reference if she agreed to quietly resign. Earlier this month, an employment tribunal judgment to establish the compensation she was owed said the trust had subjected Dr Macanovic to “a campaign of harassment” and rejected Portsmouth’s claim she had contributed to her own dismissal. The consultant nephrologist, who had been at the trust for 17 years, raised concerns about a technique called “buttonholing” – carried out to make kidney dialysis more convenient and less painful – that she claimed had caused harm to patients. After the procedures continued, the dispute escalated, culminating with Dr Macanovic being dismissed in March 2018. The employment tribunal panel said Dr Macanovic had raised her concerns about buttonholing properly, adding: “She was not alone in her concerns. The consultant body were fairly evenly divided. “She, however, went further than others, and where she believed that risks were being downplayed she did not hesitate to describe this as a cover-up or an act of dishonesty. Most people would not use that language, and it did cause very serious offence, but it had a specific meaning. It was not a general slur.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 23 January 2023
  4. Content Article
    A high resolution image of the poster with full references can be downloaded by clicking on the attachment below. Organisational culture and patient safety (ver 2) (2).pdf
  5. News Article
    A “commended” NHS nurse has been awarded nearly £500,000 for being wrongly sacked after she claimed that high workloads led to a patient’s death. Linda Fairhall, 62, a 44-year veteran of the health service, said she made 13 separate pleas to bosses warning that her colleagues were overburdened, but she was ignored each time. Fairhal told officials at the University Hospital of North Tees and Hartlepool that she was worried about a recently imposed policy that obliged nurses to monitor patients who took prescribed medicines and maintained that it led to nurses having to conduct 1,000 extra patient visits a month without extra resources. She said nurses were overwhelmed by the additional responsibility, which resulted in rising “anxiety” among staff and higher rates of absence. However, Fairhall told the tribunal in Teesside that nothing was done in response to her concerns, and ultimately a patient died. The tribunal heard that the nurse raised her last warning with officials just before she went on annual leave. On her return she was suspended and investigated for “bullying and harassment”, then sacked for gross misconduct. A tribunal has now ruled that the decision to dismiss Fairhall was “materially influenced” by her complaints regarding patient safety, with the panel adding that it could not “genuinely believe” that she was guilty of misconduct. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 4 January 2023 Read the full tribunal decision: Ms L Fairhall v University Hospital of North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust
  6. News Article
    The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has hired two independent whistleblowing champions, Joy Warmington and Arpita Dutt, to oversee a major review of how it listens to concerns. The CQC previously announced it had appointed Zoe Leventhal KC, of Matrix Chambers, to lead the first phase of the review, which is considering how the CQC handled protected disclosures made by Shyam Kumar, an orthopaedic surgeon at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust, and whether ethnicity “played any part in the management of those disclosures”. On Friday it issued details of the second phase of the work, including that it had brought in two outside experts, and long-time champions of whistleblowers, to “help to ensure the independence and credibility of the review”. This was launched amid wider concerns about how it responds to whistleblowing concerns in the service and among its own staff, including potential discrimination and also comes as the CQC itself seeks to begin a major restructure. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 22 November 2022
  7. News Article
    The chair of an inquiry into hundreds of deaths at a mental health trust has revealed she may not be able to deliver it in its current form following a ‘hugely disappointing’ lack of staff coming forward to give evidence. Former national clinical director for mental health, Geraldine Strathdee, chair of the non-statutory inquiry into deaths at Essex Partnership University Trust, has penned an open letter warning just 11 of 14,000 staff contacted said they will attend evidence sessions. It was meant to report in spring 2023. However, after raising concerns with ministers, Dr Strathdee said she believes the inquiry will not be able to meet its terms of reference with a non-statutory status. The inquiry was announced in 2021 and last year chiefs revealed they were probing 1,500 deaths of people in contact with Essex mental health services between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2020. However, without statutory powers, staff are not compelled to give evidence under oath. Many bereaved families, of which just one in four has engaged with the current probe, are campaigning for a statutory inquiry into deaths. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 13 January 2023
  8. Content Article
    In 2015 the Government introduced a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian and a system of Local Speak Up Guardians in response to the recommendations made by Sir Robert Frances following the scandal at Mid Staffordshire. From the outset, this system has attracted significant criticism and the APPG has heard from whistleblowers who have been failed by local guardians sharing their experiences that included the disclosure of their identity to hospital management and boards – resulting in retaliation. The APPG has also heard from Local Guardians who were not supported and themselves the target of retaliation after supporting whistleblowers. Local Guardians in East Kent were described as, “dishonest” and that the Guardian system had failed in every case that had been investigated throughout the UK. Further evidence was provided of a tick box approach to the Duty of Candour introduced by the former Secretary of State for Health. The APPG was told that both the Guardian and Duty of Candour systems are beyond resurrection and that across the NHS there is no ownership of problems. All attempts to encourage speaking up have been hindered by a failure to introduce an effective and safe whistleblowing regime across the NHS, resulting in the NHS being unsafe for whistleblowers, making it unsafe for patients. The APPG were told that, in over 50 years of investigation experience, little has changed, and that “these issues are not new, nor are they confined to a small number of rogue hospitals”. That league table results are inaccurate because of a flawed regulatory system with no ownership of the problems and where the regulators are “caught up in the fraud”. The APPG was provided with a series of examples of what were described as “deep seated problems” relating to teamwork and culture, which resulted in the failure to join up clinical and ethical responsibilities. These responsibilities were described as being on separate tracks and a failure by the regulatory regime to identify or report on the impact of this has significant consequences for patients, whistleblowers and the future of the NHS, as demonstrated by the case of the Bristol Children’s Heart scandal brought to light by Dr Steve Bolsin 30 years ago. Dr Bolsin was shunned for exposing the failures that resulted in the death of so many babies because funding the unit was more of a priority that the lives of the babies (he has since made a successful career in Australia). In every case, a failure to listen to whistleblowers, followed by attempts to discredit the whistleblowers, and a deliberate cover up has proved in many cases fatal for patients. What has been proved time and time again is that The Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) has made little or no difference to this failure to protect patients or whistleblowers or to learn and improve our NHS. Evidence provided to the APPG is of a lack of system-wide action and an absence of commitment to speaking up beyond excellent PR. It is unclear who, if anyone, is responsible for the monitoring and reporting on recommendations contained in investigation reports. In addition, there is no coherent process for triggering high-level independent reviews of major patient safety failings. This causes confusion, suffering and leads to missed opportunities. Mary Robinson MP, chair of the APPG for Whistleblowing, said: “We have a duty to support and protect whistleblowers because without them we cannot prevent more deaths like those in East Kent. My APPG is committed to making whistleblowing safe and will continue to press the Government to introduce the Whistleblowing Bill which will incentivise and normalise speaking up. I encourage everyone to write to their MPs and ask them to join the APPG and support the Whistleblowing Bill.” The Right Hon. Baroness Susan Kramer, said: “Doing nothing is not an option that we can afford. It’s time to put an end to ‘tick box culture’ and turning a blind eye to whistleblowers. Whistleblowing law must be meaningful, easily understandable and enforceable. The Whistleblowing Bill will do this and in doing so will save lives and protect our NHS.” Wendy Morden MP, member of the APPG for Whistleblowing, said: “I hear about problems when I am at the hairdresser because people are too afraid to speak up in their place of work. The Office of the Whistleblower will be the catalyst for meaningful change.” Dr Bill Kirkup, author of Reading the Signals Report, said: “I support the proposals set out in the Whistleblowing Bill because the NHS urgently needs an effective early warning system.”
  9. News Article
    The Birmingham MP Preet Gill has called on the UK health secretary to launch a major public inquiry into allegations that a bullying and a toxic culture is risking patient safety at University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB). The MP for Edgbaston, where UHB is based, said she had received complaints from staff alleging elderly patients had been left on beds in corridors outside wards due to mismanagement, and medics were discouraged from speaking out about problems. In a letter to Steve Barclay, seen by the Guardian, Gill said: “I have been inundated by messages from UHB staff, past and present, who have contacted me to share their experience of what has been repeatedly described as a toxic culture that has had an alarming impact on staff and patient care.” After an investigation by BBC Newsnight earlier this month, which found that doctors at the trust were “punished” for raising safety concerns, the Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board (ICB) announced a three-part review into the culture at UHB. The first report is expected at the end of January. But Gill criticised the plans, saying she did not think it would “be sufficient to adequately investigate this scandal”, and instead called for a major independent public inquiry, similar to the 2013 Francis inquiry into the Stafford hospital scandal. “We cannot rely on an ICB investigation to solve this issue. Many of those on the ICB are former members of the senior leadership team from UHB and would not offer the independence required to recommend the changes that are so needed or give confidence to whistleblowers,” she said. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 19 December 2022
  10. News Article
    Two clinicians who say they lost their jobs at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust after raising patient safety concerns claim the trust’s legal team brought a five-figure costs threat against them to prevent witnesses from giving evidence in a tribunal. The threat of costs liability, intended to bring the case to a halt, was made halfway through the hearing – less than 48 hours before witnesses for the trust were due to give evidence. One of the claims put forward at the tribunal hearing was that the trust had destroyed crucial evidence by deleting the email account of a former staff member. The clinicians – Samir Lalitcumar and Ahmed Ghedri – brought allegations of poor practice against current and former staff at the trust. Berkshire NHS trust claimed their allegations, including claims that the trust had deleted email evidence, were “without merit”. A fortnight into the tribunal hearing, both out-of-work medics were threatened with costs liability, known as a “drop-hands offer”, totalling more than £300,000, had they opted to proceed with their case and lost. Lalitcumar and Ghedri had brought claims of whistleblowing detriment against their former employer, Berkshire Healthcare Trust. They say they were “victimised” and unfairly dismissed as a result of having blown the whistle on dangerous care within the trust’s geriatrics services – potentially affecting upwards of 2,000 patients. Read full story Source: Computer Weekly, 7 December 2022
  11. News Article
    Whistleblowers at one of England's worst performing hospital trusts have said a climate of fear among staff is putting patients at risk. Former and current clinicians at University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) NHS Trust allege they were punished by management for raising safety concerns, a BBC Newsnight investigation found. One insider said the trust was "a bit like the mafia." The trust said it took "patient safety very seriously." It said it had a "high reporting culture of incidents" to ensure accountability and learning. Staff concerns included a dangerous shortage of nurses and a lack of communication leading to some haematology patients dying without receiving treatment, an investigation by BBC Newsnight and BBC West Midlands found. Read more Source: BBC News, 2 December 2022
  12. News Article
    Whistleblowers at one of England's worst performing hospital trusts have said a climate of fear among staff is putting patients at risk. Former and current clinicians at University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) NHS Trust allege they were punished by management for raising safety concerns, a BBC Newsnight investigation found. One insider said the trust was "a bit like the mafia". The trust said it took "patient safety very seriously". It said it had a "high reporting culture of incidents" to ensure accountability and learning. Staff concerns included a dangerous shortage of nurses and a lack of communication leading to some haematology patients dying without receiving treatment. The deaths of 20 patients in the haematology department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which is run by the trust, led to a review in 2017 by consultant Emmanouil Nikolousis. Mr Nikolousis, who left the trust in 2020, told the BBC he was shocked by the failings he found and believes patients' lives could have been saved. A report by Mr Nikolousis criticised a lack of "ownership" of patients and a lack of communication among senior clinicians. In some cases this led to patients dying without having received treatment, he said. "Certainly there should have been different actions done," he said. "They could be saved. Certainly, when you don't have an action done, then you don't really know the outcome." Mr Nikolousis said he felt he had no option but to quit after his findings were ignored and his position was made "untenable". He left the NHS after 18 years. "They were trying, as they did with other colleagues, to completely sort of ruin your career," he said. Read full story Source: BBC News, 1 December 2022
  13. News Article
    Doctors have warned of "unsafe" maternity services at a Sussex hospital in emails seen by the BBC. In the email chain between senior staff at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, consultants wrote of "compromises" to patient care. One doctor said during a birth "we were one step away from a potential disaster". One senior doctor wrote in the exchange that "increasing workforce issues" had contributed to making the situation in the maternity unit "almost unmanageable at times". They added: "We are making compromises to patient care every day as a result." Another wrote that their workload was often "unmanageable, and obviously impacted by the staffing issues". A senior member of maternity staff said "we are delivering suboptimal care" and "we are one step away from potential disaster". A doctor also said staff were being "stretched", and that there were delays to women's care. Another consultant wrote: "We have an unsafe service and we have to strive for better than that." Read full story Source: BBC News, 16 November 2022
  14. News Article
    Following the blistering verdict last week of the independent review into the General Medical Council's (GMC) handling of the notorious 'laptop' case, which highlighted the "worrying trend" of ethnic minority doctors facing disproportionate regulatory action, the GMC has launched a new resource 'hub' to support doctors facing racism at work. A new dedicated area on the GMC website offers advice on how to address racism in the workplace, and sits alongside its existing dedicated whistleblowing webpage as the latest of 12 areas in an 'ethical hub' that brings together resources on how to apply GMC guidance in practice, focussing on areas doctors often query or find most challenging, and helping to address important ethical issues. Announcing the launch, the GMC said: "Tackling discrimination and inequality continues to be an urgent priority for health services." It added: "The GMC has committed to working with organisations to drive forward change, setting targets on tackling inequality." Its equality, diversity, and inclusion targets set last year aimed, inter alia, "to eliminate disproportionate complaints from employers about ethnic minority doctors, by 2026, and to eradicate disadvantage and discrimination in medical education and training by 2031". In March this year it published its first progress report, which showed that the gap between employer referral rates for ethnic minority doctors and international medical graduates, compared with white doctors, had "reduced slightly". Read full story Source: Medscape UK, 15 November 2022
  15. Content Article
    91% of female doctors have experienced sexism at work, according to a survey published by the BMA in August 2021. 56% of female respondents have experienced unwanted verbal conduct and 31% have experienced unwanted physical conduct.[1] These numbers prove that there is a culture of sexism and misogyny within healthcare. To clarify those terms, sexism is defined as prejudice, stereotyping or discrimination based upon an individual’s sex, whereas misogyny has a more sinister edge, defined as a dislike of, contempt for or ingrained prejudice against women.[2] It is important to highlight the distinction here as the perpetrators of sexist attitudes and behaviours often do not believe that they hate women – after all they have wives, mothers, daughters or sisters. However, whether or not the intention behind treating women differently to men is one coming from a place of kindness or contempt does not matter. Treating women differently to men disadvantages everyone as we all end up consigned to limited gender roles. So what does this look like within healthcare? “I am in a management role and lead a large team. I have had several experiences of men within my team who are much more junior than me being invited to represent our discipline in senior meetings or on interview panels instead of me… despite them not being qualified enough to take on those tasks.” Testimony from Surviving In Scrubs campaign website. “When I was an FY1 working in orthopaedics my supervisor told me that I should go into primary care because as a female that was the best career choice for me. It would make life easier to have children and I would be able work part time to look after them. We had previously never discussed my career options/aspirations or whether I wanted/could have children.” Testimony from Surviving In Scrubs campaign website. These incidences of undermining the authority and expertise of female healthcare workers, favouring less qualified men and making assumptions about a woman’s perceived desire for a ’traditional‘ family life over career aspirations are commonplace in healthcare. They are by no means the only examples of how women are treated as less valuable employees within the healthcare system. “As a house-officer I was groped whilst assisting a mastectomy. The consultant anaesthetist slid his hand under the drapes and groped me between my legs. I was so shocked I froze." Testimony from Surviving In Scrubs campaign. website “A patient threatened to rape me. My (male) manager laughed and said ’well what do we expect, bringing a beautiful woman on the ward?’” Testimony from Surviving In Scrubs campaign website. Sexual harassment and sexual assault occur within healthcare. A paper published in 2021 authored by Simon Fleming and Becky Fisher has shone a light on the issue within surgical training.[3] Again more work needs to be done on defining the prevalence of these criminal behaviours throughout the whole of the healthcare workforce. This is where the Surviving in Scrubs campaign comes in. This campaign was set up by myself and Dr Becky Cox earlier this year. We are currently collecting anonymous testimonies from ANY healthcare professional who has experienced sexism, misogyny, sexual harassment, sexual assault or even rape whilst in work. This can be at the hands of colleagues or patients. So far, we have over 120 testimonies and we have more coming in every day. We are collecting this data to show the human cost of these cultural problems. But also, to demonstrate the strength and power that each individual voice and testimony can have in bringing about change. The collective narrative that we have already established from a variety of healthcare backgrounds – doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, clinical psychologists, administrative staff, paramedics, etc – has already led to key stakeholders taking notice. We have had meetings with the GMC, NHS England, representatives from royal colleges, the BMA and other unions and governing bodies. There is buy in, and a drive to bring about change. But we need to keep pushing! We need more stories and voices so that we are able to represent survivors of this terrible culture within healthcare. Every voice that speaks up makes a difference. If you’ve experienced issues like these, we need your voice too! Email Surviving in Scrubs with your story or use one of the following social media platforms: Website: www.survivinginscrubs.co.uk Twitter: @scrubsurvivors @ByChelcie Instagram: @scrubsurvivors References 1. BMA. Sexism in medicine. British Medical Association, 2021. 2. Wolf N, Bindel J, Power N, et al. Sexism and misogyny: what's the difference? The Guardian, 2012. 3. Fleming S, Fisher RA. Sexual assualt in surgery: a painful truth. The Bulletin of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, 2021; 103 (6): 272-322.