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:
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:
Under the EU whistleblowing directive, such whistleblower witch hunts are banned:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
UPDATE 12 DECEMBER 2019
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:
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?
LETTER TO STEVE DUNN CEO OF WEST SUFFOLK NHS FOUNDATION TRUST
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.
A search revealed that Henrietta Hughes the National Guardian in fact visited West Suffolk NHS Foundation in January 2018 and praises its culture:
This was just a few months before West Suffolk launched its whistleblower witch hunt.