Dr Minh Alexander NHS whistleblower and former consultant psychiatrist 11 April 2017
Jon Andrewes the Chair of an NHS trust was jailed last month for a bizarre fraud, in which he secured senior NHS jobs, after faking his CV. 1
Very embarrassingly, he fooled NHS regulators – NHS Improvement and its predecessor the NHS Trust Development Authority – who were directly responsible for two of his board level appointments to three NHS trusts. 2
Grotesquely, Andrewes was even for a period the Freedom To Speak Up Guardian for Devon Partnership NHS Trust, with responsibility for receiving sensitive information about wrongdoing and failures. See:
Additionally, Andrewes was a member of Devon Partnership’s Audit Committee, which has a special responsibility for corporate governance and ensuring the proper handling of concerns about wrongdoing.
Devon Partnership has stated that in appointing Andrewes to its audit committee: “The Trust would have been appraised of his [Jon Andrewes’] relevant skills, experience etc via the appointment process led by NHS Trust Development Authority.” 3
NHS Improvement was asked via an FOI request to account for its part in the Andrewes fiasco. This is NHSI’s response:
Extraordinarily, NHSI claims that it (or more accurately, its predecessor) did not check Jon Andrewes’ qualifications when it appointed him as a Non Executive Director at Devon Partnership because the Fit and Proper Persons Regulation 4 had not come into force.
“NHS Improvement did not carry out a check of the qualifications Mr Andrewes claimed to hold in his application for the role of non-executive at Devon Partnership NHS Trust. At that point in time, the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 (“the fit and proper person regulations”) had not come into force, and the additional checks we now carry out were not undertaken.”
This is a baffling claim as one would have expected that common sense and good practice would have prevailed long before the 2014 Fit and Proper Regulations were a twinkle in the Department of Health’s eye.
NHSI also insists:
“As you see, he was well known to the NHS with a strong performance history.”
This is open to question not least as NHSI also reveals that it relied upon assurance evidence from Andrewes himself:
“Appraisals provided from previous non-executive roles including his self-assessment and appraisal documentation as Acting Chair of Torbay & Southern Devon Health and Care NHS Trust for the period 2013-14”
“Written confirmation from Mr Andrewes that he is a “fit and proper person”
The truth is, the whole affair reeks of club culture and of beliefs that people above a certain level of seniority in the NHS are beyond question.
Jeremy Hunt himself set an appalling example of this sort of behaviour when he previously made a claim that a CQC Chief Inspector was “beyond question”. 5
These are the attitudes that contribute to managerial impunity for suppression of and reprisal against NHS whistleblowers.
Nevertheless, NHSI indicates that it is “currently considering its approach” to checking candidates’ qualifications.
Worryingly, NHSI discloses that it was aware of intelligence about Andrewes’ suspected fraud for three months before it informed the two trusts for which he was respectively Chair and Non-Executive Director.
NHSI says it was informed by the Department of Health Anti-Fraud Unit on 14 July 2016 that there were concerns about the validity of Andrewes’ qualifications and purported career history.
NHSI says it did not inform Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust and Devon Partnership NHS Trust (nor Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust for that matter) until October 2016.
Interestingly, NHSI’s account of events does not tally with Devon Partnership NHS Trust’s account.
Devon Partnership Trust has stated that it was not informed of concerns about Jon Andrewe’s fraudulent CV until “15 December 2016” and that it was not informed by NHSI, but “via the NHS Fraud team”. 2
Further clarifications will need to be sought to explain this variance in ‘facts’ between the Devon Partnership and NHSI.
Lastly, NHSI has refused to disclose correspondence between itself and the Department of Health about Andrewes, claiming a Section 31 exemption:
“Section 31(1)(a), (b) and (c) of the FOI Act provides information is exempt from disclosure if its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the prevention or detection of crime, the apprehension or prosecution of offenders or the administration of justice.”
NHSI maintains that the public interest does not override this consideration.
1 Lying Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust boss who was actually a builder is jailed, L Barton, Cornwall Live, 6 March 2017
“He claimed he had a first-class undergraduate and masters degree at the University of Bristol and a masters in business administration at Edinburgh University, the court heard. He also said he studied for PhDs at Plymouth and Heriot-Watt universities, provided an employment history and said he was a partner at a technology firm.
In addition, he lied about working for the Home Office and said he was employed as an executive officer at HMRC in 1969 – despite the fact he would have been just 16 at the time.
Official records show he was employed as a social worker, probation officer and builder”
2 Jon Andrewes was appointed to Devon Partnership NHS Trust by the NHS Trust Development Authority as a Non Executive Director, and appointed to Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust as Chair by NHS Improvement.
3 FOI disclosure by Devon Partnership NHS Trust 6 April 2017
4 Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014
Fit and proper persons: directors
5.—(1) This regulation applies where a service provider is a health service body.
(2) Unless the individual satisfies all the requirements set out in paragraph (3), the service provider must not appoint or have in place an individual—
(a)as a director of the service provider, or
(b)performing the functions of, or functions equivalent or similar to the functions of, such a director.
(3) The requirements referred to in paragraph (2) are that—
(a)the individual is of good character,
(b)the individual has the qualifications, competence, skills and experience which are necessary for the relevant office or position or the work for which they are employed,
(c)the individual is able by reason of their health, after reasonable adjustments are made, of properly performing tasks which are intrinsic to the office or position for which they are appointed or to the work for which they are employed,
(d)the individual has not been responsible for, been privy to, contributed to or facilitated any serious misconduct or mismanagement (whether unlawful or not) in the course of carrying on a regulated activity or providing a service elsewhere which, if provided in England, would be a regulated activity, and
(e)none of the grounds of unfitness specified in Part 1 of Schedule 4 apply to the individual.
(4) In assessing an individual’s character for the purposes of paragraph (3)(a), the matters considered must include those listed in Part 2 of Schedule 4.
(5) The following information must be available to be supplied to the Commission in relation to each individual who holds an office or position referred to in paragraph (2)(a) or (b)—
(a)the information specified in Schedule 3, and
(b)such other information as is required to be kept by the service provider under any enactment which is relevant to that individual.
(6) Where an individual who holds an office or position referred to in paragraph (2)(a) or (b) no longer meets the requirements in paragraph (3), the service provider must—
(a)take such action as is necessary and proportionate to ensure that the office or position in question is held by an individual who meets such requirements, and
(b)if the individual is a health care professional, social worker or other professional registered with a health care or social care regulator, inform the regulator in question.
5 Hunt praises ‘courageous’ Professor Field after GPC calls for resignation, Alex Matthews-King, Pulse 18 December 2015
‘A former GP and president of the royal college, his credibility is beyond question, and we absolutely back his independent judgements as chief inspector.’