Monday, 2 August 2010

How health whistleblowers are gagged by NHS

A joint investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Channel 4 News reveals that a combination of pay-offs and fear is preventing whistleblowers going public with criticisms over NHS care, the Independent reports today.
It reports thatmillions of pounds of taxpayers' money are being spent on contracts that deter doctors from speaking out about incompetence and mistakes in patient care.
The Independent says the investigation by the Bureau and Channel 4 News has discovered that at least 170 doctors in England and Wales agreed such a settlement with the trust employing them – backed up by pay-offs totalling more than £3m.
"Fifty-five of the 64 contracts supplied by the trusts to the investigation team contained gagging clauses. The agreements have to be approved by the Treasury. The bureau discovered that a further 19 NHS staff who decided to go to employment tribunals after blowing the whistle on hospital standards eventually settled before their allegations were made public.
"The widespread use of "gagging orders" against senior NHS staff who could raise patient safety concerns will intensify the doubts over the protection given to whistleblowers."
  • A full report will be on Channel 4 News tonight at 7pm.


Home Energy said...

This joint investigation has done enough researches. And they all are preventing whistleblowers from the public.

Anonymous said...

Persecution of NHS Whistleblowers

These days, new reports have emerged whereby Managers fabricate malicious vexatious, frivolous, if not minor allegations of sexual assault against whistleblowers and report them to police. The only thing required is a police report and the whistleblower is in the dock and the word of one person becomes a wider investigation with millions spent in court to bring the issue to trial. The spectre of "investigation" begins where attention from the real issues [ eg poor care] is diverted by persecuting and discrediting the whistleblower. The question we ask is this, does the Crown Prosecution Service have any concept of organisational reprisals as applied to whistleblower? It is interesting that a vexatious frivolous allegation will be energetically taken up by the police and the CPS thereby wasting millions of tax payers funds, yet the case of Dr Jane Barton who ended the lives of many was dropped at the first stage.

Simultaneously, the Managers may refer him/her to GMC/other regulatory bodies and the poor person appears before the Interim Order Panel (IOP).If s/he is vigilant and has all the records of complaints, there is 50/50 chance that he may face sanctions until the issue is resolved by police which takes almost a year before the case reaches trial. During that period, the health professional has to disclose this GMC investigation in all his or her job application forms.

Meanwhile, s/he/ may well be suspended by the Trust, has lost his/her good name and if a locum, s/he is unable to work with other agencies as the Enhanced CRB disclosure will contain these charges and even the existing agency may not offer him/her a job. So virtually s/he is jobless with huge gap in his/her C.V, which has to be disclosed . He/She will have no other option except to find job secretly and hide him/herself from Managers who are 'haunting' and all out to spread more rumors to colleagues and prospective employers.

So after discovering, the NHS staff is subjected to allegations of sexual assault , the employer will try subtly ask him/her to leave or will not extend his/her locum and will be rigorously watched as a 'suspect'. So he/she has lost his/her friends, confidence, trust and avoids attending conferences fearing he/she may have to face members who had subjected him/her to subtle surveillance and organized mobbing.

Now the case reaches court. The prosecution may deny that it has anything to do with whistleblowing and wants reasons for malicious allegations. The NHS staff defends themselves by saying it's part of organized mobbing and it takes a huge amount of courage and risk to whistleblow and the allegations are premeditated just to discredit complaints.

These are a few of endless problems such as Appraisal/Revalidation/CPD being faced by whistleblowers. If they raise concern, they are prosecuted, if not still persecuted.

Is there anyone in the town who dare to speak and help NHS Whistleblowers​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​/????????

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

The irony is that the regulatory bodies who claim to protect patients play in the hands of the NHS Managers who use them to persecute health professionals and many nhs staff are forced to leave this profession or opt for resignation. They frame them with spurious complaints and refer them to GMC/NMC etc and if someone is from ethnic minority, regulatory bodies will use harsh criteria to punish them.

Sadly there is no easy way to work in the NHS. If you follow their guidelines, they punish you and if you don't, they still frame you.

Anonymous said...

GMC guidelines are clear on raising concerns but doctors are sceptical as time and again they face retribution and are left all alone at the mercy of the NHS Managers who then refer them to police, GMC and subject them to ostracism, horrifying investigating process, dismissal etc. I suggest the GMC guidelines lack clarity on real support after raising concerns as the PIDA don’t support adequatley because of a number of loop holes and health professionals can’t affort hefty legal costs as the Trade Unions hardly support a PIDA claim. Doctors opt to silence fearing further reprisals by the NHS Managers.

GMC screening process should be robust and if a whistleblower provides evidence of raising concerns prior to complaints, he/she should not be referred to the FTP as it will send a wrong message to other doctors and will discourage them to speak up for their patients.

Anonymous said...

Because of a culture of fear and retribution in the NHS,many doctors don't speak up. However a minority do raise concerns trusting the system and stop when they face reality and see the double standard. The GMC guidelines are clear encouraging doctors to speak up but when they do speak up, NHS Managers persecute them and refer them to GMC. There is no support for doctors when they are suspended as the GMC does not involve in employment issues, knowing the cause of suspension is because of following the GMC guidelines. The NHS Managers fabricate spurious complaints and the GMC take it as Stream 1 (more serious) especially if a doctor is from ethnic minority.

I suggest, GMC should be proportionate in its response and if a whistleblower produces evidence of raising concerns before being subjected to spurious complaints,GMC should close the matter at the initial stage as referral to FTP panel will discourage other doctors from speaking up and GMC wants doctors to highlight malpractice or wrongdoing.

Only with proportionate response by the GMC, doctors will have confidence to speak up without fear of reprisals.

Anonymous said...

The following case illustrates how the Caucasian doctors are treated more favourably by the GMC. Dr.Thomas, a Gynaecologist who was alleged to have given his patient, Ms Giles 'leg bucking orgasm' and received lewd messages on his phone was taken lightly after his patient made a complaint against him and the GMC did not take any action despite Judge's remarks “He has no doubt learnt there are no doubt limits to the compassion and concern in dealing with his patients.” and despite its own guidelines, that the presumption for sex assault allegation is to refer to the Fitness to Practise (FTP) Panel hearing and substantial disputes should not be resolved by the case examiners.(The Telegraph By Nick Britten and Matthew Moore 6:16PM GMT 18 Dec 2009)

If it were a black or an ethnic minority doctor, he could have been immediately suspended and dragged all the way to the FTP Panel hearing and most likely erased.

Anonymous said...

Ian Kennedy, the last Chairman of Healthcare Commisson has acknowledged the widespread problem of deterrance in raising concerns saying “My experience of the Department of Health is they have a tendency to shoot the messenger rather than embrace changes that need to be made. Their first priority is to ‘handle’ the situation rather than consider and implement change. Those were the realities we had to work with,” (BMJ 2011; 342:d2900 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d2900 (Published 6 May 2011).

Anonymous said...

Some Pressure groups are campaigning to abolish biased GMC and I am not sure if the DH/NHS who use regulatory bodies to silence and persecute genuine doctors will ever let it happen. GMC shows bias on almost every stage starting from investigation leading up to FtP decisions. For Caucasians in particular White British doctors, preferential treatment is given and if there is no strong written evidence, complaint will be perceived as vexatious especially if it is from a patient or member of the public. However NHS Medical Managers' concerns are taken as stream 1 (more serious) if the doctor is from ethnic minority and GMC take long time to conclude and for White British doctors, the case is either closed swiftly or brought to FtP panel in a few months with favourable outcome. A number of reports have shown that NHS Managers make false allegations and complaints against White British doctors come to light only if the case of of Shipman or Kerr/Haslam level

as the NHS management support them. By contrast, even a minor concern abut ethnic minority doctors is taken seriously and reported to GMC and the NHS management use other staff as witnesses and the ethnic minority doctors face prosecution by the GMC which is part of the mob culture. In nutshell, many experts in whistleblowing say, its wise to keep quiet and keep your head down.

Anonymous said...

GMC guidelines on rasing concerns are sketchy as they don't provide any platform of support when a whistleblower is subjected to complaint and reprisal as the NHS Managers and Trusts will never admit that its retribution or anything to do with whistleblowing. Even the CPS has no charging criteria when the Trusts press criminal charges. So who dares to speak up and ends up losing his good name, livelihood and almost impossible to work again in the NHS. Even regulatory bodies take drastic action when referred by the NHS Managers and whistlbleblowing issue is not taken seriously. How to prove that its part of mobbing and whistleblowing if the evidence is in the form of written complaints and the NHS Managers use malicious allegations through other staff or known patients. If the whistleblower is from ethnic minority, he/she is unable to produce any witness as NHS Managers threaten any potential witness of dire consequences of supporting a whistlebower.

Its not easy to raise concerns. A robust screening process is vital and if a whistleblower provides written evidence of raising concerns before reprisal and subjected to referral to regulatory bodies, he/she should not be investigated and the matter must be closed as soon as possible. It will encourage other NHS staff to speak up and will minimise culture of silence and fear as many NHS staff feel, regulator bodies are part of mob culture.

Anonymous said...

GMC has two different set of criteria to investigate concerns and some people are justified to say that its not less than a double standard. The following article written by a British Cardiologist Dr.Peter Wilmshurst provides evidence of racial bias despite GMC's claim that its not due to ethnicity but the place of work which brings more International Medical Graduates to Fitness to Practise (FtP). A British Professor who claimed false qualification was given only PRIVATE WARNING . Seven Black and Ethinic minority doctors claiming false qualifications and/or making false job applications were treated harshly; three were erased, one suspended and another reprimanded. Is it fairness in this most civilized nation.

You can find full article in the following link


A Personal View. Dr Peter Wilmshurst

'....Some may ask why the Professional Conduct Committee publicly suspended or erased from the Medical
Register a number of doctors, all of whom had African or Asian names, for claiming qualifications that they had not been awarded, but the GMC decided that in the case of a white British professor at a major academic institution only a private warning not to do it again was required.....'

Not to mention that Dr Pal, an ethnic minority doctor who raised concerns on patients' safety was labelled as mentally ill and the judge branded GMC as a 'STALANISTIC REGIME'. Its unfortunate that the GMC has assassinated the career of a brilliant doctor and the NHS has lost an eminent professional merely because of racial bias. GMC has been and will be used to silence and prosecute whistleblowers and drastic action will be taken against ethnic minority doctors. There is still hope if the GMC and other regulatory bodies change their attitudes and stop taking dictations from NHS Managers and stick to their primary duty of patients' care and not to punish genuine whistleblower.

Anonymous said...

GMC needs to change its mind set that the NHS Medical Managers' concerns are always credible. The reality is that most of them are really corrupt and biased against ethnic minority doctors particularly locum doctors. If anyone raises concern, they report him to GMC with spurious complaints and sometimes play dirty and the concerns remain under the carpet. They don't investigate fearing reality as it will imply they are poor managers and historic arms of the GMC are used to silence and punish whistleblowers. GMC now says its role is not to punish doctors but to protect patients and public but the evidence shows completely different.

Its just a lollypop that PIDA protects whistleblowers as Trade unions will almost never support PIDA claim and a whistleblower can't afford hefty fee and even if he wins, he will not get back his legal cost and will be subjected to further reprisal. GMC encourages to speak up but many whistleblowers say its professional suicide. In other words, GMC ask doctors to commit suicide after raising concerns. GMC just want to satisfy public that they are protecting patients but when a whistleblower faces reality, financial, emotional hardship and almost unlikely to work again in the NHS, he will advise others to keep your head down and never whistleblow. GMC destroys career by investigating a whistleblower and bringing him before a Fitness to Panel (FtP) hearing and seek dictations from DH/NHS Managers to prosecute whistleblowers with harsh punishment for ethnic minority doctors. Even if the allegations are unfounded, the doctor will have a life long sentence as he will have to disclose it in all future job applications and the employers will be reluctant to offer him a job. This is direct contrast to GMC as well as DH pledge to support whistleblowing. In other words, GMC as well as the NHS/DH send a clear message to other staff to keep their mouth shut and in theory encouraging them to raise concerns on patients' safety. I believe, its all hypocrisy and nothing is going to change.

Anonymous said...

"The GMC to encourage whistleblowing" - anyone believe it?
Mon, 2011-08-22 14:47
The House of Commons Health Select Committee believes that the GMC
should send a clear signal to doctors that they must report concerns about
a fellow doctor.[1] My experiences suggest that the GMC itself has been
involved in concealing misconduct.
As chair of the medical committee of a government recognised national
organisation, I reported a group of doctors, because the committee had
concerns about their research.[2] It involved injecting a radioactive
isotope into patients suffering from a neurological illness. Before
investigating the allegations, the GMC investigated me for the counter-
charge of disparaging the doctors. The GMC investigated the allegations
against the doctors only after clearing me, but allowed the two most
senior doctors to voluntarily remove their names from the Medical
Register, which meant that the charges that they had covered up misconduct
could not be investigated. The GMC then confirmed that ethics committee
and ARSAC approvals had not been obtained. No consent forms were
available. It was stated that patients were only asked to give verbal
consent. The GMC decided that it was unable to adjudicate on allegations
of data fabrication because the authors failed to produce the data. Many
might consider failure to produce data at the request of the GMC prima
facia evidence of falsification. The GMC held no public hearing and issued
no public statement. The senior doctors involved, including a medical
professor and a consultant in nuclear medicine, who told the GMC that they
did not understand the requirements for ethics approval and for
administration of radioactive isotopes, were given private warnings and
In 2002, Dr Clive Handler was suspended from the Medical Register
after I reported him to the GMC for financial misconduct.[2,3] Dr Handler
had left Northwick Park Hospital in 1998 after an inquiry there revealed
the misconduct. The GMC was informed that a severance agreement between
the hospital and Dr Handler included an agreement not to inform the police
or the GMC. The hospital trust board, including the Medical Director,
Professor Peter Richards approved the agreement. At the time Professor
Richards was a GMC member. When Dr Handler appeared before the
Professional Conduct Committee, Professor Richards was the Committee's
chairman and I was amazed to witnessed the bizarre conduct of a
dysfunctional organisation. Professor Richards had to stand-down from
hearing the case because of his involvement in the cover-up. Despite that,
Professor Richards returned to chairing subsequent PCC hearings.
The messages from these cases are clear. Ordinary doctors who report
misconduct may be victimised by the GMC and the GMC tolerates its own
members concealing crime.
The Health Select Committee should be asking "quis custodiet ipsos
1. Jacques H. Doctors should be held to account for behaviour of
colleagues, say MPs. BMJ 2011;343:d4794.
2. Wilmshurst P. Dishonesty in medical research. Medico-Legal Journal
3. Dyer C. GMC hearing reveals how doctor won deal to have earlier inquiry
documents destroyed. BMJ 325 : 1189 doi: 10.1136/bmj.325.7374.1189/a
Competing interests: I have reported concerns about conduct of other doctors.
Peter T Wilmshurst, Consultant Cardiologist
Royal Shrewsbury Hospital