The National Guardian’s Office gets it badly wrong again, at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

By Dr Minh Alexander NHS whistleblower and former consultant psychiatrist, 11 December 2019

The Guardian has today published a truly gruesome story of NHS trust senior management misconduct in the form of a witch hunt to find an anonymous whistleblower:

Hancock won’t talk to us, say ‘bullied’ doctors at his local hospital in Suffolk

Trust managers have demanded that staff give fingerprints, in order to identify the authors of a letter which raised concerns about botched surgery and a related patient’s death:

Screenshot 2019-12-11 at 09.10.42

Under the EU whistleblowing directive, such whistleblower witch hunts are banned:

Screenshot 2019-12-11 at 09.11.10

But the present government has resisted adopting the EU directive, claiming laughably that current UK legal provisions are adequate.

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s board are currently favoured and the trust is rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission, including on the Well Led domain. The CQC’s inspection report embarrassingly gives glowing praise to culture:

Screenshot 2019-12-11 at 07.39.44

Quite a contrast from the staff comments about the trust being like North Korea:

“It is totalitarian, they just spew out a policy of good news. It is like North Korea and you are not allowed to complain.”

Hideously, the trust CEO tweeted a selfie with himself posed with Matt Hancock the Health Secretary, in which he displays a Freedom To Speak Up lanyard:

Screenshot 2019-12-11 at 09.22.55

Screenshot 2019-12-11 at 08.12.27


Screenshot 2019-12-11 at 09.15.25

He seems to have a talent for getting along with the powerful

He tweets at @SteveDunnCEO and his twitter biog pic comprises another selfie, wih David-Kerching-Revolving-Door-Confict-Of-Interest-HCOne-Offshore-Behan, the former CEO of CQC:

Screenshot 2019-12-11 at 07.42.47

But he has been powerful himself, as his LinkedIn account advises that he started his professional life at HM Treasury and then in the NHS at the Department of Health:

Screenshot 2019-12-11 at 09.24.40

Of local significance to me, and other people living in the East of England, Steve Dunn used to work for controversial Neil McKay, who was so roundly criticised by Public Accounts Committee for the. Hinchingbrooke Hospital privatisation mess.

As for Matt Hancock not meeting with whistleblowers, why would he? He won’t even ensure that NHS and Social Care whistleblowers’ concerns are investigated by the CQC:

The DHSC, Robert Francis & National Guardian Cabaret: Inconsistencies & Obfuscation about whistleblowers’ concerns

And to cap it all, here is the National Guardian’s Office thanking Steve Dunn the trust CEO for his commitment to Freedom To Speak Up:

Screenshot 2019-12-11 at 08.33.12

The crass culture of superficiality only provides a smokescreen for executive misdeeds.

The West Suffolk scandal comes not long after another figure who was extolled by the National Guardian’s Office as a role model for Freedom To Speak Up was removed as an NHS trust director in relation to discriminatory tweets. The tweets included a suggestion that people in inner cities should be given contraceptive drugs through the water supply.

Vote wisely.


This is a summary of data reported on Speaking Up cases to the National Guardian by the local trust Freedom To Speak Up Guardian at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust:

Screenshot 2019-12-12 at 00.00.26

Remarkably almost nobody, according to the trust Freedom To Speak Up Guardian, suffers detriment at the trust that is “totalitarian” like “North Korea”. What are the possible reasons for this? Are some staff too frightened to report internally? Or does the Freedom To Speak Up Guardian not feel able to report unfavourable findings such as detriment?


I have written to Steve Dunn Cc Dido Harding Chair of NHS Improvement and Edward Baker CQC Chief Inspector of Hospitals seeking more detailed information about the trust’s reporting arrangements and anonymity. I have also asked him if Dr Henrietta Hughes National Freedom To Speak Up Guardian was aware of the trust’s fingerprinting demands to staff, given that the trust had claimed to the Guardian newspaper that the national head of NHS whistleblowing had backed its approach.

Letter to Steve Dunn anonymous reporting systems, fingerprinting, Henrietta Hughes 12.12.2019



A search revealed that Henrietta Hughes the National Guardian in fact visited West Suffolk NHS Foundation in January 2018 and praises its culture:

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s whistleblower witch hunt, National Guardian’s visit and an object lesson in superficiality

This was just a few months before West Suffolk launched its whistleblower witch hunt.

Replacing the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA)

National Guardian looks set to throw Freedom To Speak Up Guardians under the government’s bus too

The Low Fact National Guardian’s Office

What does the National Guardian’s data hide?

Lanyard WomanCulture 4

culture 2

Culture 1

Culture 3 Hunt

2 thoughts on “The National Guardian’s Office gets it badly wrong again, at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

  1. Gruesome indeed!

    Just when we think the bottom of the barrel has been found and thoroughly scraped, the bottom gives way and down we plunge – yet again!

    Shallowness of thought, experience and empathy and inserted into a ‘caring’ institution.

    Btw, the BBC has a new production of A Christmas Carol to be broadcast on Sunday, 22nd next. Do so wish those mentioned in your essay watch and are able to identify with the theme of redemption.

    As always, thank you, Dr A.


  2. Well done, yet another exposure of the good news only lip service policies of Doh. We were promised Whistleblowers protection and transparency but morsels staff continue to suffer the same toxic unchanged Culture, post the Francis reports.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s