Personal Accounts of Suspension
It was Thursday evening, 8pm
and the link worker and I finally left the clients’ house because
I now felt satisfied the baby would come to no harm, having consulted
with various agencies. (We usually finish work at 5pm. The link worker
was excellent.) Next morning I phoned one of our child protection
advisers to tell her what had been happening. She gave her approval
and congratulated me on my actions.
Later that afternoon, the specialist
adviser for health visitors phoned and asked to speak to me on my
own. The nursing auxiliary left the room and then the adviser told
me there were queries about my involvement with a particular family
and that it was not appropriate for me to remain at work. I would
hear the nature of the allegations being made as soon as possible.
I was so shocked I have a vague memory of thanking her….
The auxiliary came back
into the room. When I told her what had happened she went white and
sat down shocked and in disbelief. She was very concerned for my safety
driving home and when I declined to have her drive me, followed me
part way home to make sure I was alright.
The worst way of letting someone
know they have been suspended must be by letter. The next to worst
way must be on a Friday afternoon by phone! All weekend to stew over
it. Shock, anger, shame…. The emotions are endless.
I eventually received an apology
from the organisation for this but never from the person herself.
We had previously been on good terms and as a manager, this person
had been excellent at giving personal support to her staff. However
I had been involved in several new initiatives which had needed her
action and which added to her impossible workload. She had become ‘distant’ in
her relationship for the last couple of years. I believe her personal
feelings clouded her professional judgement.
I received a letter detailing
4 allegations against me.
Investigatory meeting 5 days
later by the person making the allegations! My complaint about her
lack of impartiality was ignored! Human resources manager firmly on
her side to support her. A number of assertions made at the meeting
by her were later found to be untrue.
Outcome of meeting – the
director of primary care decided one allegation should stand
and I should face a disciplinary hearing.
The trust produced a piece
of evidence from a police inspector, the evening prior to the hearing
preventing time for a considered response. (I already had a police
witness statement refuting this beyond doubt but the copy of the fax
‘threw’ my union rep. I had to raise it myself in my defence.) Moreover
a solicitor who saw the fax at a subsequent date, immediately spotted
that the copy of the fax of entries to a police log were out of date
order to support the investigation manager’s evidence. The investigation
manager had already written a note on a hospital document claiming
that an event had taken place that had not and for which she had no
evidence. In other words, there were dodgy goings on! Why? I will
The chair of the disciplinary
hearing and the independent witness did not read my lengthy defence
prior to the hearing due to a failure of their human resources department
to provide them with the document.
At the hearing, the investigation
manager argued for an hour that I should face all four allegations.
She finally accepted that I should face two of them. The union regional
officer conceded this for fear we should never proceed. Again the
investigation manager presented inaccuracies in her case.
Meanings of words are critical.
‘She cannot be woken’ can mean ‘she was unconscious/drunk’ or ‘she
has been up every night this week and now it is my turn. Leave her
alone.’ What different conclusions may then be drawn. And how tired
we all were and how adversarial it all was that no-one spotted the
glaring evidence against the first interpretation. The accused stands
guilty and has to prove their innocence in the present situation.
I was asked about the size
of my caseload. I had regularly covered a colleague’s caseload for
lengthy periods of absence (six months at one time) and helped out
with others. It was already a heavy caseload but these were normal
for that organisation and area. I said nothing!
The union rep was making out
a strong case. Then I was asked if this situation was a course for
concern. Of course. There was a big sigh from the rep and joy from
the investigation manager. I had taken special care for several years
to see that all was OK. I would have been negligent not to have done
so. I still find myself thinking about all this some years later!
The hearing lasted six hours.
The chair phoned later to say no further disciplinary action was to
be taken but I was to undertake some further training. What an insult.
I felt like giving up.
The letter gave no verdict
on the allegations brought against me. If I had acted inappropriately,
what would have been the appropriate action? It also included an error
of fact, a measure of the inadequacies (understatement) of the hearing.
My husband and children were
very, very angry about the whole thing and the distress they had witnessed.
They could not believe the lack of loyalty from my employers when
they knew how hard I had worked for the good of clients. One of them
wrote to the chairman of the organisation to complain. In his reply
the chairman stated that I had ‘been cleared of professional shortcomings’.
Hurray! Their letter did not spell that out to me.
As there had been no disciplinary
action taken, I was unable to appeal. Injustice is one of the hardest
things to live with. My colleagues were incensed by what had happened
(I had been able to keep in touch through my union branch) and did
not doubt my ability to practice. Their belief in me was precious.
My GP who was very supportive throughout, and who had known other
patients in similar situations, pointed out that the opinion of my
colleagues, who worked with me and who knew my work, was the opinion
that really mattered. I had received a constant flow of cards and
flowers of support. It was amazing.
To my surprise, I was unable
to physically go into the management block after my return to work.
When my line manager (who had been bypassed in the suspension and
who had nothing to do with the process) left me a phone message to
get in touch with her, I started to shake and my colleagues had to
calm me before I dared to call back. I asked her never to leave a
message without also saying what she wanted to speak with me about.
She sounded surprised but agreed to do it. (I had never been off sick
in 8 years until these events took place. I had never been of a nervous
I had already been planning
to work nearer home and was able to leave three weeks after my return
to work. I was fortunate to be given a good reference and the new
organisation were willing to trust their own judgement and give me
My colleagues gave me a fantastic
send off but of course, no managers were invited! What a sad way to
end my work with them.
Setting the scene!
Background - Dynamic health visiting team – change of most
of our practice in three years.
Important team member left. New member, team ethos changed
radically. Comments about my communication with colleagues and clients.
To try and resolve these:-
Fundamental disagreement with the team; meetings failed to
resolve situation; team asked me to leave the office.
Staff shortage at a different health centre; was asked to
Change of team
New dynamic of the new team, restorative and healing; valiant
part time colleague had struggled on with needy full time caseload.
Within a couple of months, up to date; starting to develop new initiatives
and work in depth with some families.
Complex case; realised situation had changed radically; no
allocated social worker; sent fax proposing different outcome to case
conference (reverting back to original proposal by social worker).
Sent same fax to child protection team.
Three days later called to manager’s office urgently. Not
invited to bring colleague but did.
Suspended pending investigation. Complete shock. However,
this happened to me four years previously in another organisation
so I knew the process. I
had been through the trauma and devastation then, though this was
also extremely distressing of course.
(The allegations against me were not upheld and the trust chairman stated that
I had ‘been cleared of professional shortcomings’). I asked to continue with clinic work and groups but request
At the investigation interview, explained why I sent the fax.
Record keeping examined by two managers. Report written by
clinical supervisor without prior agreement with me, in spite of written,
signed contract that all discussions were confidential and reports
would only be written with both our agreement.
Investigation report full of fresh allegations, unrelated
to the allegation of potentially putting a child at risk. Written
refutation ignored. Accept recommendations of retraining in child
protection procedures and full assessment of ability to function as
a health visitor or face disciplinary action.
As the same people would be conducting the disciplinary hearing,
opted for six month assessment.
Person who wrote ambiguous and unhelpful clinical supervision
report, appointed to supervise. Unable to trust this person. Said
this at a meeting with person present. Told there was no alternative
except disciplinary action (again). Regional union rep and local rep
managed to have the supervisor changed. Occupational health doctor
Suspension continued while all this was being arranged. Finally
lifted after eight and a half months.
The assessment of my practice
Very painful returning to work. It was humiliating, lonely and very stressful.
My confidence had been undermined and I had no trust in management.
However, I was working in a different area with a different
manager over seeing the assessment, who tried to be neutral in it
The assessor, a community practice teacher, was very supportive,
(as were the rest of the team), and fair. I was also asked to keep a portfolio of the assessment..
Six months later the assessor wrote a positive report detailing
the sections of the assessment, finding no problems and recommending
a return to practice.
The thought of the waste of time and public money was irksome.
And I kept protesting my innocence, that I could not have put
a child at risk because processes would not allow it.
I had also set up a web site to give support and information
to fellow sufferers and to campaign against these horrendous miscarriages
of justice. The people making contact were describing very similar events
At the beginning of the assessment process I was given a
different local union rep who was incensed by what had happened and
gave me very good advice during the assessment process, but who could
not accompany me to meetings as she worked for a different trust and
her employers would not sanction it.
Initially I went to assessment meetings unaccompanied.
One of my daughters came to the last one and could not believe
what was going on – no policies or procedures being followed. She
was allowed to speak and asked for timescales for a decision.
Child protection assessment
For the other part of the assessment, I insisted the designated
nurse for child protection undertake the assessment of my child protection
work, as I considered she was the only practitioner who had the authority
to do this and because serious allegations had been made against my
ability to do the work safely. I also felt badly let down by the adviser
who had supervised my practice during the four years I had worked
for the trust and who had never indicated any concerns.
I asked the designated nurse why I had been suspended without
asking me first for my side of the story, but she made no reply.
I went through the case that had caused my suspension and
she listened but had no comment or suggestions about what I might
have done wrongly. I
showed her my systems failure analysis but again, no comment.
(The director of nursing had sent her thanks for it but they
already did that. Kind
I thought it was the social services manager who had initiated
the whole process (my apologies to him!) and when I asked her about
it she replied that the report was back in the office and she could
not comment without reading it.
I attended all the child protection training required, We
covered all the ground that she considered necessary to establish
my safety to practise and I took on some child protection cases. She then wrote a detailed and positive report, finally recommending
that I was safe to return to unsupervised practice.
The whole process had taken just over six months.
So now what ?
new about that! By email,
I asked what was happening.
I was told the investigating manager and my former manager
were meeting to discuss the outcome of the assessment. I was asked
to give the investigating manager sight of my portfolio, which I did.
It was returned to me without comment.
Silence again. Another email and I was told those two managers
were meeting with the director of nursing and the Deputy Director of Human Resources to
discuss a verdict.
I was informed of a meeting with
the Director of Nursing. This
was brought forward a week and was now to be held with the Director
of Hospital and Community Services.
I received a letter
by recorded delivery, informing me that the Clinical Governance Professional
Review Group had considered my case and decided I displayed a lack
of judgement evidenced in my seeming inability or refusal to accept
that I acted outside process and created unnecessary risk.
Therefore the purpose of the meeting was to outline a decision
taken by the full trust board and my future with the Trust.
The outcome of the meeting was
my instant dismissal. It
was a shocking experience.
The fulltime union officer
My impression was that the union regional officer had at
first believed I was ‘guilty’ in some way and had ignored the unsubstantiated
allegations. He had intervened
to have the assessor changed and he had told the local rep to contact
the trust when the suspension dragged on interminably.
Now he got involved at my dismissal meeting and was a witness
to the breaching of employment law.
My case was taken by the union’s solicitors and an appeal was
lodged with the Employment Tribunal.
Endless waste of public money………………
signed on with the local job centre.
I tried to get work as a health visitor but without success.
An agency almost employed me until their human resources (HR)
director spoke to the previous HR director.
Referral to the Nursing and Midwifery Council
six months after my dismissal I received a bundle of papers from the
regulatory body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) informing
me that my previous employers had alleged unfitness to practise and
that my case was to go before the investigatory committee in a month’s
time. I was invited to send a response.
The trust had requested that I not be given sight of the
four statements of allegations which, until now, had been kept confidential
to protect the authors. Thankfully,
the NMC did not uphold their request.
I now understood reasons for the recommendations.
I also saw that the social services manager had stated, eight
days after my suspension, that it was not possible for what I had done (send a fax)
to trigger off a chain of events that would put a child at risk.
And a child protection adviser who didn’t know my work, had
set the alarm bells ringing (I still don’t understand how she managed
it!) and that the designated nurse for child protection had been very
economical with the truth. How
wrote a 13 page response with another 25 pages of appendices supporting
my evidence and the investigatory panel decided that there was no
case to answer. The reasons
they gave were that there was no evidence of impairment of fitness
to practise. ‘The assessment documentation indicated that the supervision
was successful and that the respondent is competent and has insight’.
I applied to the agency once more, the previous HR manager
gave a ‘non-descript’ reference and at last I returned to practise
through an agency eight months after my dismissal.
I have very little trust in NHS managers and never want to
work in the NHS again.
The Employment Tribunal
The Employment Tribunal (ET) was due to be heard the same
month, but the solicitors for the trust, said they were bringing up
to six witnesses to give evidence against me and would need more time.
Two days were agreed and a date everyone could manage was fixed, 14
months after my dismissal.
Shortly after, the solicitors put in a settlement offer of
£10,000. Some months
later they increased this to £15,000.
I wanted an apology and the freedom to tell my story for the
campaign, to stop this sort of disaster re-occurring.
By now I had over a hundred NHS employees, mostly nurses, who
had made contact through the web site, with similar stories.
On the afternoon prior to the Tribunal hearing, a final settlement
agreement was reached as the sum offered was more than the ET would
award if I had a barrister cleverer than the trust’s, (I had learnt
from other people’s cases that it is not about justice and fairness).
I had been given an apology and it had been accepted that I
would use my case in the campaign but not name the people responsible.
Cost of my case?
My case must have cost a lot, well above the £21,400 average
for non-NHS staff the National Audit Office figure reached in their
2003 report. Not working
properly from my suspension until my dismissal 17 months later, the
cost of the assessments, training, meetings, a substantial settlement
that I am not allowed to disclose although the Department of Health
has said this must not happen and finally solicitors fees.
The end will arrive for me
when the Department of Health gives all NHS staff the same rights
as the doctors and dentists.
(They are currently in breach of the 2002 Employment Law and
have acknowledged it.)
I am very grateful to a fellow campaigner who has written
a clear explanation of the illegalities of the Department’s actions.
These are in the campaign section of the website www.suspension-nhs.org
The icing on the cake will be when the health sector unions
set up specialist teams to give advice in such cases as at present
, they are failing many of the members by their lack of understanding
of processes and their absence of action.
Some of the stories people have, relate to false allegations with investigations but no suspension. This one is typical of some of them.
It was a very busy clinic. after Christmas and in the school holidays. There were just myself and the very able auxiliary nurse present. Parents brought children by arrangement, to have their babies’ immunisation programmes completed. Others heard what was happening and requested the same. Checked their parent held records to confirm what they were saying and administered the immunisations. Unscheduled immunisations’ forms completed with their signatures. Auxiliary nurse assisted with the paperwork.
Next morning, one parent phoned, very upset. Baby unwell - did I give a particular vaccine because child should not have it. There had been nothing to say this in the parent held records. Tried to contact GP. Not available. Bleeped senior paediatric houseman at local hospital. He arranged for the baby to be admitted immediately. Baby discharged several hours later. Illness not vaccine related.
Family made formal complaint.
Investigation interview with manager and representative from human resources. Took experienced colleague. We expected a clinical discussion and some recognition of my prompt actions that had protected the organisation from any legal action.
We came out of the meeting an hour later totally shocked at what had transpired.
The family had written in large letters and since the clinic, that the vaccine was not to be given Manager agreed it had been there at the time of the clinic and that I had missed it or ignored it.
Upheld another of their accusations, their word against mine. That I had given the vaccine was undisputed. A fourth allegation that was obviously impossible was thrown out.
Outcome - I was to receive counselling. During the counselling session I became very upset at what had happened. Felt betrayed by the manager. During the whole period of the investigation, work output dropped to a very low level. Very hard to concentrate. Very distressing.
Have since found out that this sort of event is not uncommon with outcomes that are far more damaging eg a two year written warning on file.
No right of appeal.
no: 4 told by a family member.
Sarah (not her real name), who worked as a community psychiatric nurse,
was involved in a car accident whilst travelling between two of the
trust's clinics, she received a telephone call while she was still
recovering from her injuries - she had to be cut out of her car after a
tractor entered the main road from a laneway and ran over her car - from
her Line Manager pleading with her to return to work and he could give
her a job for 3 days a week so she could get used to being back at work
family advice she did so. The nurse she was taking over from was also
her Shop Steward and worked a 5 day week at the same job.
She inherited from him about 50 files with no notes in them.
She was also getting about 10 to 12 new referrals a week on top
of a caseload of 150 patients she was still to see.
She approached her Line Manager for help and he told her to
asked him how she could do so as she didn't know any of the patients,
hadn't seen them and there were no notes in their files.
She was told to do whatever she could but as the nurse before her
(working 5 days) never needed any help, her Line Manager couldn't see
why Sarah (working 3 days) would need assistance to catch up. With his
mind-set she had absolutely no chance!
a doctor wrote in to complain that a referral of his hadn't been seen in
3 weeks. Then the manure
hit the fan and it was all her fault with her Line Manager saying he had
no idea she was behind in seeing new referrals.
she was posted to another area with a new nurse being brought in to do
her previous post at 5 days a week, which they refused her permission to
do. Her new post meant her
driving over 150 miles a day with the damaged spine she received in the
accident. She made
management very well aware of her bad back and that driving distances
aggravated it but she was forced to do so.
she was forced to take time off as her back was now giving her so much
pain she was coming home at night and lying on the floor for up to 2
hours to try to get some ease from the pain.
then suggested she sue the Trust for the pain & suffering she was
going through and I made an appointment to see my solicitor.
He suggested she should contact her Trade Union as that's what
they are there for. She did
so and they in turn referred her to their Solicitors.
At the end of the day it was found that a particular Trust
Manager was negligent in forcing her to drive long distances with the
foreknowledge it could cause her already damaged spine further damage
and Sarah was awarded £3,500 for her pain & suffering. A princely
the settlement someone else now decided to change her 'patch' once more.
This time her daily driving was increased to 250+ miles daily.
She approached top level management about this and then had a
meeting with one of them accompanied by their Human Resources Manager. The HRM said to her, "Sarah, you are not registered as a
disabled person, just go and do the job you are sent to do" which
she did. This lasted a few
months again followed by a long period of absence as a result of back
pain. All as predicted.
they sent her to see the Trust's own doctor who went ballistic when she
told him where she had been sent to work.
It turned out he had personally intervened and had arranged for
her to work at a neighbouring clinic where driving was reduced to a
was this job she returned to work to do. After about six weeks the team she worked with were having
their weekly working lunch in a pub with the new psychiatrist, who said
he had something important to do at the Trust's HQ.
Off he went. Without saying anything to Sarah, the important
thing he had to do was to make an official complaint about her.
He alleged a patient she was seeing had saved up her tablets and
had taken an overdose without Sarah being aware of it. The patient had
boasted to the doctor how she had stored the tablets away where Sarah
couldn't find them.
a result of this charge the Trust now added a charge of her not keeping
proper notes on her patients when she was working 3 days a week.
was instructed to work on the wards until a Disciplinary Hearing was
arranged. She went off sick
with the stress instead with our doctor immediately giving her a Sick
note for 6 months.
very difficult neighbour stood in the middle of her garden one day
shortly afterwards and swallowed an overdose in full view of the
neighbours. In hospital she told the Psychiatrist that Sarah was the
reason for all her illnesses. The
fact that her life was in a mess had nothing to do with her very public
attempted suicide. Next thing, Sarah was summoned to the Trust HQ where
she was again informed that the same doctor had made a further official
complaint about her, this time about the neighbour.
couple of weeks later she received a further letter asking her to report
to HQ. She believed this
was to give her a date for a hearing. It wasn't. Again she was informed
the same doctor had made a further complaint that she had discussed a
patient with the patient's partner just before she went off ill. This was supposed to have taken place in the patient's own
home a month previously. Sarah's own diaries proved she had not visited
that patient's house for over 20 months and she was one of the patients
that Sarah always insisted on seeing at the Clinic.
eventually found she had no case to answer on 2 of the doctor's
complaints and the other case regarding the neighbour remains outstanding after years.
the Disciplinary Hearing did take place, it was Chaired by the man who
was found at fault when she sued the Trust. The other member was the Human Resources Manager who broke
European and the Employment Legislation when she refused to recognise
that Sarah should have been treated by them as a disabled person.
They got their revenge by demoting her from the top of a G Grade to a D Grade, to work on the wards under strict supervision when they found her guilty of not keeping proper records. These were the ones inherited from her Shop Steward. They refused to listen when she told them about how she had inherited the files in the first place.
The Shop Steward was well aware of all that was happening but he failed to step forward and admit he was at fault. He also withdrew support just prior to this meeting as did the regional officer for the union Amicus.
Because of the situation Sarah felt she could not involve any other members of staff to accompany her to the Disciplinary Hearing or to her Appeal, just in case whoever did support her would be their next target. Therefore she faced both kangaroo courts alone.
As for her colleagues, except for a couple, they didn't even phone her. It seems they were afraid of it rubbing off onto them as well. Her Line Manager has now taken early retirement, possibly in an attempt to try to avoid having to answer for his actions.
Sarah's solicitor received a copy of her Employment Record and her Line Manager had clearly recently written some notes which were backdated. Some actually had more than one date on them and fortunately she had kept a record of every meeting she had with him.
he never had reason to give her any warnings regarding her work, to look
as if he had, he had inserted one note that he had given her a verbal
warning at a particular time on a particular date. At that exact date
and time we were attending a family celebration 25 miles away from where
he said he had this imaginary meeting with her!
Nor is there any record of this so called Verbal Warning being
put on paper. On another
date when he said he had a meeting with her, we were out of the country.
I still hope that one day the Trust managers will apologise to Sarah for the way they have treated her.
of course, she has been so damaged by all this, she has left the NHS and
started a whole new career.
A familiar tale, anonymised to protect the writer.
current situation highlights the injustices faced by many hardworking
and loyal nurses on a daily basis in today's NHS.
am currently entering my 6th month of what is deemed a neutral
suspension, after a team member (with whom I had been working very well
prior to this), made an allegation of bullying and harassment against
I feel is so unjust is the way my PCT is allowed to conduct
the investigation which is appalling, and the way I was suspended, and
left unsupported, and now informed I will be off of work, suspended
for at least another month.
still to this date, despite frequent requests have never been informed
what the original allegations against me were.
Staff were told that they were not, under any circumstances,
allowed to contact me, but they were not informed that this was limited
to whilst at work. This has had a major impact upon me, as most of my
friends are also work colleagues. The PCT therefore compounded my
feelings of isolation by actively instructing people employed by the PCT
not to contact me or speak to me at all.
was also instructed both at my suspension meeting and in writing to
“refrain from any contact with PCT staff unless with the explicit
approval of the investigating officers’. It is my considered opinion
that the behaviour adopted by the PCT has in itself been bullying and in
breach of my basic human rights. It has significantly reduced my support
networks and added to the immense stress I have been under.
knowing what the allegations are has compounded the fact that I have
felt so isolated, and led me in desperation to make the PCT aware of the
impact of their behaviour upon my health by formally lodging a grievance
regarding the way the investigation was being managed.
main points of this were initially ignored by the investigating team,
prompting me to repeat my grievance to the chief executive.
This however did not get me very far as the reply was only to
tell me what has happened to-date.
fully support the campaign to tackle suspension injustice in the NHS.
I think I can genuinely say that
I have been to hell & back, almost ‘over the edge’.
I left working in A&E, after being bullied & forced out. From A&E, I moved into Mental Health (MH), working for an NHS Trust & did my ‘conversion’ (dual registration) some time later.
following year I began to experience difficulties in the
workplace, because I would not be ‘occupationally socialised’
IE conform to the unprofessionalism & apathy now so clearly
widespread within mental health. Because I could not accept less than
adequate standards of practice & care delivery, I began to stand
up & speak out. Initially this was informally, until I was leaving
& insisted on a formal ‘exit interview’ to expose things going
on. I voted with my feet hoping that I was moving to a better job.
However this wasn’t to be the case.
my 2nd MH job, I again ran into difficulties for similar
reasons. As a result, I had to take out a grievance, which was finally
upheld over a year later.
that grievance, because of the deteriorating workplace &
bureaucracy in dealing with the grievance, I again voted with my feet
& secured a transfer to a neighbouring team. There, a person
(senior nurse) who knew me prior to the transfer prejudiced my new
workplace colleagues (especially manager) & I was again the target
of bullying, harassment, victimization, intimidation, & sexual
harassment (amongst other things), commencing within 2 months of me
starting my new post.
had to take out a 2nd grievance in order to try resolve
things, as informal attempts had sadly either been ignored/dismissed
or failed. Around the same time, someone else wrote in to a senior
service manager, complaining of similar things. From that complaint we
all got interviewed. Ultimately,
I ‘blew the whistle’ as I’d had enough of what was going on
& the lack of intervention, & have since paid the price as I
was not protected for disclosures under the PIDA (Public Interest
Disclosure Act) & the organisational ‘Whistle-blowing’ policy.
Once it was public knowledge I had ‘blown the whistle’, events
a public incident, I informed my manager of their & others’
conduct & requested a formal meeting with them & my union.
Within 2 days of that conversation, I was excluded (suspended),
accused & defamed.
the following 8 months, I was investigated (what a joke that was!)
with further accusations & defamations made, cleared &
re-deployed against mine & the union’s will. I also initiated a
3rd & 4th grievance simultaneously (the 2nd
one had not been acted on). Coincidentally, 2 managers (including my
troublesome line manager) resigned. Interestingly, 2 other colleagues
who also spoke out to an extent also experienced some repercussions
& were re-deployed….whilst the perpetrators identified were
‘supported’, & some promoted !
was signed off work by my GP with work-related stress &
depression, on the advice/ stern warning of my union rep & legal
officer. Due to events & effects, & because of a change in the
law in October 2003, I had to & did legally initiate a 5th
‘collective’ grievance before I could consider going to an
obvious ‘delay’ tactics, I finally got to have a grievance
hearing, which was upheld. However, my reputation, now labelled &
disseminated as ‘trouble-maker’, ‘serial complainer’ &
‘perfectionist’, became clearly evident & thus my employment
with the organisation (who I had been with since I 1st came into
mental health) became untenable
IE – I won my case, but no longer had a job.
Thanks to the legal system
& my union, I was left with little choice but to accept an
‘out-of-court compromise settlement’, which isn’t as rewarding as
people imagine it to be! No amount of money can repair the damage that
has been done or the costs incurred practically, financially,
emotionally, & psychologically. Either way my now ex-employer won,
as my intention was to go to employment tribunal, which is in the public
domain & would expose certain individuals & everything that has
gone on, & hold them to account.
Sadly, my union also had a
part to play in letting me down, by their occasional inactions, apathy
& conflicts of interest. At times it felt like I was the only one
fighting my corner, & was having to watch my back from all angles
every step of the way, & unnecessarily prompt even those on my side
There has been no real/moral
justice by speaking out, in terms of addressing the perpetrators &
holding people to account, or in terms of ‘reward’. However, I
wouldn’t change what I did. I’d just change the way I did it. At
least I can hold my head up high, knowing that I have integrity, chose
not to ‘go with the flow’ (of the sewerage), & took
responsibility for identifying, addressing & trying to resolve
unacceptable issues, & seeing through my actions.
And that’s where I’m up
to, practically: Lost my job
& career, & no longer working for the NHS (a career I wanted
since I was 15). I haven’t mentioned or included personal issues going
on simultaneously to all the above, which only exacerbated matters.
Things such as: 3 car accidents (including killing a dog & writing
my car off) in the space of a year, being assaulted on a bus home after
a night out to the cinema, & an attempted sexual assault by a male
stranger when on a night out (despite positively ID’ing the male at a
later date, he got off on a legal technicality!).
As I hope you can imagine,
events have taken their toll, manifesting in a myriad of emotions &
practical, physical, emotional, & psychological effects. From around
the middle of Dec 2003, I began to withdraw from people, as previous
memories of A&E came back along with new effects from my last 3
workplaces. No-one was left out when I withdrew, including my family who
- I am ashamed to say - had to send out a search party (my sister) all
the way from New Zealand to locate me following an anonymous call to
Over time, including when I
returned to work on being re-deployed in November 2003, I insidiously
became somewhat depressed, with no self-worth, self-esteem, direction or
motivation. I became melancholic & anhedonistic
[ look them up;-) ]. My ‘life’ became one big black
hole/abyss - it was grey; I was numb. The whole situation consumed me
& my waking time.
Regrettably, I used alcohol to
cope, seriously abusing it. Luckily I averted drugs, & did not
become a life time alcoholic. I have to be honest that the day I was
suspended, accused & defamed was the worst day of my life, as were
the months following. I am not ashamed to admit that I seriously
contemplated suicide on 2/3 occasions. Please,
do not be alarmed by this. I share this with you as I want to do my
part to reduce the stigma of mental ‘ill-health’, & also so that
if ever you get so low, you will know that you are not alone.
If I can say one thing, it’s to
remember that your response to someone who is depressed/suicidal, or
what they either express/exhibit, will affect them & also their
ability to confide in you (especially blokes, who do not talk at the
best of times!!). Your response says something about you – your own
fears; your own coping; your own attitude/approach. Have time for
people. Look for the warning signs (they are there).
Luckily, on the 1st
occasion, a friend’s passing comment in conversation unknowingly
‘saved’ me & I didn’t act on my pain. On the other few
occasions, my stubbornness & respect for others were my saviours.
I can only now admit that I was
destroyed & totally broken, both professionally & as a
person/individual. The signs & symptoms, all so often quoted were
all there, but it wasn’t until I unknowingly ‘broke’ & was
sternly warned by my union, that I sought help.
I am - gladly & thankfully -
‘on the road’ again, although a different & changed person,
largely but not always for the better. For better & worse, I now
have a low threshold for conflict & adverse situations. Others can
interpret this as being brittle, hypersensitive or confrontational, when
in fact all one is trying to do is (from negative past experience)
‘nip things in the bud’ & deal with things at source, promptly,
so they don’t get out of hand/snowball.
Others’ critical opinions no
longer bother me, however, as I am now able to justify my reactions
& present reasoned, objective, researched & experiential logic
against subjective opinion. I am glad to have discovered that how I am
now is normal & rational for people in such circumstances
(researched by professionals) – it took me a long time to get to this
point, because people who should have been ‘in the know’ actually
didn’t know & were labelling &/or scapegoating me.
Good things to come out of all
this & my experiences – which I hope will bode me well in coming
years – include real understanding of depression & suicide, which
can only make things better personally & is an invaluable empathy in
my job. Now the words in my textbooks have real meaning & images.
I have also acquired valuable,
transferable skills & knowledge regarding
team-working/relationships/dynamics; handling conflict; writing
important (& sometimes legal) letters; time management; stress &
MH management; basic employment & management good practice;
leadership; Health & Safety at work; the legal system. I am
currently composing an experiential guide about conflict management –
who knows, I might get it published…?
Sadly, I have negatively learned
that grievances & whistle blowing are not the done thing in the NHS,
evidenced by a front-page article in the Manchester Evening News
(Wednesday June 8, 2005 – ‘Doctors support hospital
whistle-blower’). I was unpopular & suffered proven detriment as a
result, especially as nurses do not support each other.
I have also learned about NHS
bureaucracy, & that the NHS’s principles of transparency,
openness, learning from incidents & events, staff development, model
employer, etc are mere rhetoric – they are not applied in everyday,
‘local’ practice, as far as I am concerned anyway, based on 4
I can wholeheartedly say that I
never want to go where I’ve been again, & am doing/will do
everything to prevent that! I am slowly, gradually, daily, re-balancing
things, getting a grip on life again, getting myself back on track, in
control & in the driver’s seat. It ain’t going to happen
overnight, & I have a lot (an unbelievable amount L
- my sister & floors will tell you!) to catch up with/on from the
last 3 years or so, in a very short & limited space of time.
However, I have finally begun the
processes of healing, purging, de-junking & re-organising, I have
gathered inspirations from many arenas including family, what friends I
have left, external feedback, the collection of
‘inspirational’/’self-help’ books I have unwittingly gathered
(& there are a few!), & work-based skills & strategies.
Having been rejected by my colleagues & employer,
having no job, my career being in shreds, not being able to maintain my
clinical development as is expected of me as a professional, &
subsequently due to losing my identity, self-belief & confidence,
along with my house being in ruins through neglect - any would say I am
a mess?! - a major ‘life crisis’ naturally evolved. Following my
‘quarter-life’ crisis, I began to re-evaluate my life, & life in
general. It gave me the opportunity to re-focus & ‘re-group’.
My future plans, at some point, would have included
emigrating. However, events have just fast-forwarded plans & set the
ball rolling. I am going to be emigrating to New Zealand over the coming
months, all going well. Life here in England/the UK (all 20 years of it)
is over for me, personally & professionally. My reputation,
employment & career within the NHS is ‘signed, sealed &
delivered’, & in the process I have one way or another also lost
personal & colleague friends.
Whilst I will be leaving a very big part of my heart here,
it is time to go & hope for/secure (depending how you look at it)
better luck! I need to
establish my recovery, re-validation & closure, & I need a new
beginning in a place that accepts & embraces diversity &
individuality, innovation, excellence, change & challenge. One
thing’s for certain, I will DEFO be actively screening &
interviewing future prospective employers! My whole mindset has changed,
thankfully – eventually – for the better. I doubt I will be staying
in nursing, sadly.
And that’s it - a very
‘brief’ account (how many cuppas u had?).
I hope I have not depressed you, too much anyway? I hope there
are no taboos about what I have talked openly about? Be reassured that
how I responded to the unusual situation(s) is normal. To understand
About stress (especially work-related stress), look at the
About depression/suicide, look at the website www.readthesigns.org
(there are loads more good websites)
If you use a search engine such
as Google & type in key words/phrases, you’ll get loads more
Hello Julie, I am husband of …………………….. and
know that in her communications to you she has mentioned the anger I
feel at the shoddy way she is being treated and the cruel charade that
is being played out by the NHS in the name of justice. This travesty is
indeed grotesque and one which ignores the individual’s rights (in
law), their sense of justice and decency, their
mental anguish during long periods of suspension, their enforced
isolation from work colleagues who are friends, the loss of structure in
their day to day routine which up to now was greatly shaped by their
work - the job which has been such an important influence on all
aspects of their lives. A job into which they have poured so much of
themselves; these are caring people and they have chosen this work
because they care deeply.
a shocking way to treat such essential and important people.
Those who speak out are punished - pour encourager les autres -
and so the others in fear of their jobs stay silent. The population at
large can have no idea that such injustice is systemic in their
much-loved ideal of the NHS and I for
one would enjoy pointing out to them that the emperor's fine
clothes have indeed been spun but not by silkworms!
my wife is dismissed from her job/career of many unblemished years and
only has recourse to legal help for the appeal stage it's probably too
late and their dismissal of her will smack of fait accompli. Mission
accomplished team, troublemaker silenced. Oh yes the NHS is not perfect
but the management have been given the power to make sure that the Great
British Public never see just how awfully imperfect it really is.
appears to me that this power is an essential concomitant of
their(management) remit to do whatever is necessary to keep the illusion
of a highly-organised NHS striving to attain its targets, alive. A
patient-centred 'industry' where you are in safe hands and any
shortcomings can be aired in the public domain with transparent honesty
and fairness. A sad illusion indeed and one whose perpetuation exacts a
shocking cost from its conscientious workers.
shall be writing to our SMP soon and wonder how much Amnesty
International is aware of the totalitarian tendency in the NHS. I am
fully aware that this will be a long struggle and that my wife may not
benefit in her career from any results achieved but if the effort helps
other poor souls downstream then it will be worth while. The
destructiveness of a long suspension cannot be understated; it is time
out of joint, limboland, a stealthy form of sensory deprivation.
Essentially, you are smeared with a guilty tag, bound, gagged and left
to prove your innocence as best you can. Dreadfully sad!
is going on here is a negation of all civilised practices
won at high cost over many years.
admire the time, effort and honest passion that you are putting in to
help fight this 'ritual abuse', but above all I admire very much the
simple fact that you are reacting at all.
I could help in even the smallest way please ask. I'm not a public
speaker but I can write and sometimes I get ideas :-)
AN ANONYMISED ACCOUNT OF
THE EVENTS SURROUNDING THE IMPROPER USE OF SUSPENSION WITHIN THE NHS
I am writing this account as a
colleague who is entitled within the terms of the compromise agreement
to know the circumstances surrounding the termination of this nurse’s
contract with his/her health care organisation.
S/he can not give permission for this account because s/he
is subject to a confidentiality agreement, the only purpose for which
can be to avoid scrutiny of poor practice by a limited number of key
or senior staff within the organisation.
M was a nurse working in community palliative care.
S/he was suspended because of “a serious allegation” that had
been made by a family the previous afternoon about the “great distress
caused by allegedly withdrawing a service at what was already a very
difficult time them.” The
actual allegation was that M had deliberately discontinued services
to their terminally ill family member without permission from any
member of the Trust Management, which caused great distress to the
family concerned at what was already a very difficult time.
For M it was not difficult to guess who the family was because
there was only one family on the team’s case list who had a terminally
ill member but they were not named and M did not see their written
statement until after the investigation.
The day before the suspension M
had taken the day off sick at the advice of a friend who could see
that s/he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown having struggled
for a month trying to deal with what felt like bullying and harassment
from the team leader (it was a team of two at the time).
This was a new team that had just been set up.
After working with the other member of the team for five months
M had concerns about the team lead’s management style and clinical
to Trust policy M was required with the team leader to provide 24/7
cover in the home without a lone worker policy in place and contrary
to European Working Time Directives.
M felt there had been a failure on the team lead’s behalf to
share decisions and progress service development.
M was not kept informed of clinical decisions by the team leader
and overall had concerns that the care provided was not approaching
the standards that would be expected by a specialist nurse.
M was expected to get permission before meeting anyone, s/he
was withdrawn from an important course s/he was half way through,
s/he was frequently run down in front of other people, negative comments
were made about M’s working style without any substantiation or suggestions
on how to improve, s/he was set tasks and then not given the time
to do them, the office secretary was asked to keep a check on all
M’s activities and report back to the team lead, M’s mail was opened
without consent and there was no toleration of human error such as
double booking appointments.
M was a G grade specialist
nurse with two years recent experience in palliative care including
a year at an internationally recognised hospice.
The team leader did not have specialist qualification or recent
clinical experience in palliative care.
It had got to the point, having already consulted with staff
support and the Union that M felt s/he had to take the problem to
Human Resources and the line manager.
Triplicate requests twice communicated to the director of nursing,
human resources and the team leader had not been acknowledged or responded
to. M’s GP agreed with
M’s decision to take a day off and recommended s/he approach the Union
and the Director or Human Resources in view of the total failure of
the PCT managers to assist in reconciliation.
Before phoning in sick M had checked that the family with a
terminally ill member, who were receiving their services, did not
need a visit immediately and then told them s/he was taking the day
off sick. It was not M’s turn to be on call for them that day, but on
two previous occasions when they had difficulties and been unable
to get help from the office number they had phoned M’s home number
(it was an agreed practice to give families with a terminally ill
member the nurses’ home number).
M explained s/he could not visit them at home whilst off sick
but went on to say the cause of absence was not actually sickness.
M felt the family needed this reassurance that s/he would not
be away for long and because M had visited them in their home the
previous evening s/he did not want them to worry that s/he may have
passed on an infection which could have proved fatal to their family
member. M told them the
reason for being off was management issues.
M reminded them that they could always ring the home number. M did this in case they were unable to get the help they needed
by ringing the office number.
On a previous occasion when M was not on call they had felt
dissatisfied with the arrangements made by the team leader and M had
to make alternative arrangements for the family.
The following day, having decided on a strategy with regard
to the bullying and harassment M felt s/he was being subjected to,
s/he was back at work and ready to be on call for the family so s/he
has always categorically denied that s/he withdrew any service.
Furthermore, M had only had one day off sick in the previous
ten years. At the time
the team leader arranged for M’s suspension s/he would have been in
receipt of M’s text message and an email indicating that M would be
returning to work and was available for cover that weekend.
Permission to suspend this nurse
had been obtained from a very senior executive officer of the PCT
by the person who the M felt was bullying him/her (the team leader).
The perpetrator of the alleged bullying had previously declared
a personal relationship with this officer and twice used the individual’s
name as a threat. The
senior executive by-passed the line manager (the nursing officer)
and delegated authority to another non-operational manager who M had
also had cause for concern about. M was expressly denied permission
to remove personal property, including personal study resources, from
Trust property by this same individual and all attempts over the next
eight months to retrieve personal property were blocked.
When eventually a small amount of it was returned M was told
that after such a period of time it would be unreasonable to expect
that it could all be found now.
M was not allowed access to Trust property to confirm this.
Instead s/he was offered a derisory sum to compensate for the
loss of almost an entire library of personal learning resources, which
Two weeks after the suspension
M was sent the date of the investigation which was on a day that had
previously been booked as holiday, so the union representative got
it postponed. M was not
allowed to know when the terminally ill patient s/he had been caring
for died or to attend the funeral or attempt to communicate in any
way with the family. M found this almost unbearable.
When M. eventually saw the family’s written statement (and
there is evidence from a colleague who is also a family friend of
theirs that they made this under pressure from the person who was
doing the bullying), their complaint was about the service as a whole,
not specifically about M. The fact that they named M in a tribute
in the local paper following the funeral further suggests that they
had not meant to complain specifically about M. The complaint was
never referred to the complaints officer.
M was misled by the investigating officer as to the existence
of any written complaint (PCT policy requires it should have been
sent to the union rep) having been told there was only an oral complaint,
so M never had the opportunity to answer the comments made in that
statement at the investigation interview.
The statement made it clear that they had no complaints about
the standard of care they had received from M.
The representative from HR at that meeting must have been complicit
in this deception and would have well known that PCT policy and reasonable
natural justice was not being followed.
The investigation took place
six weeks after the suspension.
M’s partner was not allowed to be present to for support, despite
a request for this. Notes
of the meeting, which went on for about two hours, were taken in longhand
by a representative of the Trust and there was a lot of background
builders’ noise going on. It
was clear that the note-taker was having difficulty hearing as s/he
frequently asked for things to be repeated. The Trust’s Disciplinary
Policy and Procedures policy clearly states that the aim of the investigation
is to “produce a written statement of the employee’s account that
is confirmed/jointly agreed as an accurate record at the end of the
meeting. The employee
may wish to compose this statement personally or may wish the investigating
officer to do this and then check it.
A pre-carbonated duplicate book may be useful here. In either case the statement should be signed and dated at
the end of the meeting” and this statement should be “confirmed/ jointly
agreed at the conclusion of the interview and the employee provided
with a personal copy”. This
did not happen and when M was finally sent a draft transcript of these
notes they contained many inaccuracies, poor grammar, inconsistencies
and absurd miss-hearings translated into the document.
In particular M’s statement relating to the allegation that
M had told the family that M “would not be coming in again” critically
left off the end of that statement that they would not be coming in
that day. The
Union representative was not available to speak to until ten days
later. The amended draft
was submitted to the Human Resources department.
They took two weeks to respond and refused to make many of
the substantive amendments and were expecting M to sign a statement
which was inaccurate. It
was clear that there was not going to be any opportunity given to
M to make his/her statement rather than the statement the human resources
officer wished M to make.
It was now one day before
the deadline for presenting the report to the person who would decide
whether or not there was a case to answer.
M’s Union intervened, insisting that HR use the amended draft
which was the one M had signed but both the agreed and the contested
statements were presented. The
Investigation report was dated the day before receipt of the amended
statement. There is no
evidence that this was considered in the investigating officer’s report. M’s signed statement had been crudely altered with the use
of photocopy and mask. Twelve
days later M was told that her case was to go forward to a disciplinary.
M also for the first time saw the statements made to the investigating
officer. These contained
unsubstantiated comments from the person who M felt had been bullying
him/her, a telephone call to the investigating officer which was overwhelmingly
supportive but one negative comment about M’s bed-side manner.
The individual who made that call who would never have been
in a position to form such a judgement categorically denied that s/he
had said this. Not all
the statements were signed or written in the first person, as stipulated
in the Trust policy. The
investigating officer appeared not to have made any attempt to consider
the possibility of bias given the acknowledged breakdown in team relationships
that s/he was fully aware of and noted in his/her report. The report itself contained contradictory statements some of
which actually refuted the allegation, had added new allegations concerning
use of the sickness policy and then sought to justify this by misquoting
the Trust sickness policy. The investigation officer admitted him/herself
that this was the first time s/he had done such a report and s/he
needed training. The Union had a copy of this letter.
The report failed to address the allegation or provide evidence
for the same. On the
other hand it made no mention of obvious documents and actions by
M that clearly made the allegation unsustainable.
There were numerous delays
in organising the Disciplinary.
Inappropriate people were appointed to the panel; time had
to be allowed because of the new allegations which had been brought
in; the family that the allegation centred around were not allowed
to be present to be cross examined and it seemed to prove almost impossible
to gather the relevant people together on the same day.
Meanwhile the Union representative had presented a very strong
Statement of Case refuting the allegation and M had some senior and
influential people who had agreed to attend and provide character
It is perhaps a commentary
on the shock with which M’s suspension was received in the local health
community that the matron of the local community hospital with whom
M had previously worked refused to sit on the disciplinary panel. S/he commented that s/he had learnt more from M than any other
nurse and was prepared to come as a witness to M’s competence and
dedication. M had also
worked with a more senior matron of another community hospital nearby
and another colleague who is the foremost international authority
on the relevant nursing speciality.
Both were scheduled to speak as character witnesses to support
M at a disciplinary hearing.
“Without prejudice” negotiations
began between Human Resources and the Union for a compromise agreement.
The eve of the disciplinary, which was eight months after the
suspension, M was given 20 minutes over the ‘phone to agree to the
terms of the compromise agreement, which contained a financial settlement
and an agreed reference in return for resignation and a very comprehensive
confidentiality clause. By
this time M had decided that if not completely exonerated of the allegation
s/he would appeal and if necessary go forward to an Industrial Tribunal.
In view of the experiences over the past eight months, M was
not confident of a fair hearing at the disciplinary with a PCT who
had not previously followed their own policies, or that the Union
would provide effective support.
M wanted to return to work in order to regain confidence and
self esteem which was at an all-time low so agreed to the compromise
which was duly signed off a month later.
Despite requesting an exit interview, any form of critical
event analysis was avoided by the PCT.
There is no evidence that the allegation of bullying was followed
up (contrary to Trust policy) or that the patient’s family’s complaint
It has not been easy for
M to get another job. It
would appear that the Trust did not keep their part of the agreement
because in the three instances when M used them for a reference, having
had a very positive interview and in one instance even begun working
some shifts, for no clear reason M was rejected.
There was clear evidence from one prospective employer that
the reference was not given in a manner agreed in the compromise agreement.
M now works outside of the NHS with the subsequent loss of
an NHS pension. Even
now, nearly two years after the suspension, M has said told me that
s/he still feels a great sense of injustice when s/he recall the events.
S/he has still not fully regained his/her confidence and has flash-backs
and bad dreams about the suspension.
M’s partner has also suffered a great deal of stress over this.
They feel bitter towards those involved
and have concerns that some of them are still able to continue damaging
their colleagues and their patients and families in the way they were
the suspension, the manager who received delegated responsibility
to suspend M is on long term sick leave, the nursing manager making
the decision to go forward to a disciplinary left in very hurried
and covert circumstances as did the Union representative and one of
the Human Resources managers implicated is having a grievance brought
against him/her by another manager.
The PCT is now in a very unstable state facing a large overspend,
struggling to re-organise with many key people not at their desks.
The Chief Nurse believes there
are no dysfunctional management styles in the NHS which are wrecking
people’s lives. It is
normal for the obvious to be denied by the Department of Health even
in the face of the obvious, so this is not surprising.
The misuse of or threat of suspension and poor management has
been well documented in two reports.
There are many other instances of this type of incident.
Though things are getting somewhat better for physicians working
in acute hospital trusts through the work of the National Patients
Safety Agency there are continued worries about the ability of PCTs
to properly investigate concerns about primary care clinicians and
other community staff, including nurses.
The care of patients was in fact compromised by the actions
of the PCT in suspending the only properly qualified member of the
M’s story is a telling example
of a failure of clinical governance.
Policies and guidance are put in place by trusts to protect
patients and staff. When
these are not followed there is a significant risk of harm.
It is surprising that health care organisations still think
it appropriate to avoid scrutiny with the use of confidentiality clauses
that have been heavily criticised by two government select committees
with the agreement of Sir Nigel Crisp.
I was a senior staff nurse in an accident and
emergency department. i was suspended in 2004 for four months,
I was a senior staff nurse in an accident and
emergency department. i was suspended in 2004 for four months,
Ian Perkin - An NHS Whistleblower and member of the NHS Reform Group.
A brief outline of my case is that I, Ian Perkin, worked in the public sector for a continuous period of thirty-two years. During that period I never had any complaint made against me by anyone, in fact I was promoted on numerous occasions, and in 1990 I was appointed to Director of Finance of St George’s Health Care NHS Trust one of the biggest NHS Trust’s in the country.
During my time
with the NHS I received letters thanking me for the contribution I
was making to the NHS from people such as Sir Donald Cruickshank (who
went on to become Chairman of the London Stock Exchange) and Lady
Elizabeth Valance (a member of the Committee on Standards in Public
In October 2001 a junior member of the information team reported to her manager that the Deputy Chief Executive was instructing her to reduce the number of operations that the hospital were cancelling at short notice to zero, when over a period of a few weeks more than eighty operations had been cancelled. This matter was then reported to me as Director of Information.
I reported this
matter to the Chief Executive Ian Hamilton and that is when my problems
started with me losing my job soon afterwards.
The Chairman of
the Trust Catherine McLoughlin called me to a private meeting to tell
me that she considered I had unreasonably caused tension with my board
colleagues by raising this issue and the Chief Nurse Marie Grant sent
an e-mail to all members of the Board saying it was disappointing
that I had chosen to raise this issue.
I took the Trust to an employment tribunal and was successful, despite the Trust’s denials that they had done anything wrong at all, in proving that I had been unfairly dismissed by St George’s both because of a biased hearing and because my rights to natural justice had been denied me (my contractual entitlement to an internal NHS appeal was refused). In addition thanks to the young lady in the Information Department being kind enough to provide a sworn statement to the Tribunal, I was able, again contrary to NHS denials, to prove that I had made a protected disclosure under the terms of the Public Interest Disclosure Act.
The Act is supposed to provide protection to “whistle-blowers” but in my case as in many others it provided no protection at all, because although I had won my case for unfair dismissal and proved I had made a protected disclosure under PIDA, the NHS argued that this was not the reason that I had been dismissed, but my sacking was because I was not considered to be a “ team player “ and had made unfounded allegations against my former Chief Executive and other senior NHS staff.
It was an argument that the Employment Tribunal accepted, so that although I won my case it was a pyrrhic victory in that I was awarded no compensation at all. The allegation that I had made unfounded allegations was never investigated by the NHS until after the Employment Tribunal had ended, a tribunal at which the only evidence given against me at the Tribunal was given by the very people who had conducted the proven biased disciplinary hearing.
By the time the
NHS investigation (authorised very belatedly by the then NHS Chief
Executive Sir Nigel Crisp) had reported, both my former Chairman and
Chief Executive had left their posts and the report and so avoided
the national publicity which showed that the Employment Tribunal had
been wrong to accept the NHS evidence that I had made unfounded allegations
about the Chief Executive Ian Hamilton, because the NHS’s own investigation
showed that among other things that Hamilton had charged the part
of the cost of a private party held at the London Savoy Hotel to the
You will note
that the other well known NHS figure mentioned in the newspaper
Another individual involved in dismissing me from St George’s was the Medical Director Paul Jones. One would expect a Medical Director to be someone who would always act with great integrity and make sound judgments in the performance of the role.
However, one day
after my Employment Tribunal ended the NHS was issuing a High Court
apology in respect of statements he had made about the clinician who
was in charge of the reproductive medicine centre at St Georges.
As a post script, despite having been branded by the NHS as not a “team player” I have gone on to build a second successful career as Treasurer of Surrey Police Authority where I have been Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer for the last five and a half years.
If you want to
know more about my experience with the NHS the Times wrote an article
on the way I was treated.
The other thing
I discovered is that while politicians claim that they support “whistle-blowers”
the reality is something else. The current government is using John
Hutton to conduct an investigation into Pensions .
I continue to give media interviews on whistle-blowing to the media. In the past couple of months I did BBC radio interviews on the subject including on the Nicky Campbell Show and I did a Channel 4 News interview with Jon Snow in June of this year on the Airdale Hospital scandal.
In my view the
NHS will never become really effective and prosper until we reach
a position, where NHS staff believe that if they make a disclosure
under PIDA, it will be properly and independently investigated and
that this will be the focus of any action taken, rather than what
in my experience has been an approach of trying to ignore the factual
matter being complained of and all the effort going into trying to
ruin the character and reputation of the complainant, while promoting
and rewarding and making excuses for those senior NHS individuals
who the NHS should be holding to account.