Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

my blog
Lynne's Parliament and Haringey Diary, established 2003

Great Ormond Street says sorry!

I got a text from Kim Holt on Tuesday.

Kim Holt is the NHS whistleblower (one of the four paediatric consultants in the GOSH child health team at St Ann’s in Haringey) who spoke up to senior managers at Great Ormond Street about the danger to children because management were not listening to concerns. And it was not just her concerns – in fact – all four senior paediatricians wrote a letter to the management and co-signed it – they were so worried about the situation at St Ann’s.

It is fighting her case that brought me into this arena and seeing the huge injustice done to her. Having spoken out – Kim’s reward was to be put on special leave. Kept on full pay by GOSH at taxpayers’ expense for three years now but not allowed to work – Kim has been trying to get back to the work that she loves and work that everyone (including an Independent investigation of her case by NHS London) found her to be an exemplar paediatrician.

The investigation found that she should be re-instated by GOSH after mediation. She never has been.

Back to the text. The text from Kim to me this Tuesday said:

‘Lynne I have today been given an open apology from GOSH. Can you believe it? Kim’

What interesting timing after three years of being treated as a pariah. Did GOSH sense that when the Sibert Report was finally released under FOI to the BBC that they might be in the spotlight?

UPDATE: the actual wording of the apology has now come through:  “both Trusts accept and are sorry that you have been through a difficult time. You are a respected and valued member of staff and we look forward to you resuming your role in community paediatrics very soon’

NB Both Trusts are Great Ormond Street and Haringey PCT

Fri 10 June 2011
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Comments

  1. Anon says:

    Well Kim received apology from GOSH, though after three years. There are a number of NHS Whistleblowers, who want to raise concerns but are forced to keep quiet because of fear of reprisals. The regulatory bodies listen mainly to NHS Managers who refer these doctors to the GMC and the investigation takes ages. During this time the whistleblower has to disclose this pending investigation to prospective employer/s which makes him virtually unemployable in the same trust or others who will get to know this whistleblowing issue and the GMC investigation directly or through their own sources.

    A cultural change is vital and many doctors fear the NHS Managers influence GMC decision. The following link highlight some real concerns about the GMC proceedings

    http://palvgmc.blogspot.com/

    I suggest all Trusts must treat whistleblowers fairly since its professional obligations to highlight any malpractice and the regulatory bodies must complete their own investigation swiftly and should not disclose this information to employers as its not in the public interest to discourage whistleblowing.

    Regulatory bodies should close their investigation during the investigation stage after seeing evidence of raising concerns and should not drag this issue to the Fitness to Practise Panel (FTP). Even if the allegations are not upheld, the stigma of going through the FTPP process is daunting as doctors have to disclose it to all employers.

    GMC screening process must be robust and only real cases which meet the Realistic Prospect Test stage should be referred to FTP Panel.

  2. John Brace says:

    It’s not just the public sector in which whistleblowers are treated badly, suspended without cause and subject to long disciplinary proceedings without being able to do their job.

    This practice that is already a bad culture within sections of the public sector is sadly being copied outside.

    Until whistleblowers are protected both in law and in practice, how is the public going to be made aware of illegal or unethical practices?

    Should we have to rely on the press to keep organisations honest and accountable or should the systems exist to nip bad, unethical or illegal practice in the bud?

    Too often whistleblowers are treated appallingly. However society needs whistleblowers…

  3. [...] week, the home office minister Lynne Featherstone called on the chief executive of Great Ormond Street hospital, Dr Jane Collins, to resign for [...]

  4. John, London says:

    In response to “Anon”‘s comment above(10 June 2011 at 8:36 am) “NHS Managers who refer these doctors to the GMC “. I think there should be a law that prevents NHS Managers from counter complaining about a whistleblower. If a whistleblower makes a complaint etc (strictly speaking Kim Holt was NOT a whistle blower! – she kept her complaints within the NHS!!?) then the person(s) being critiscised(in the case of the NHS) must not be allowed to make counter allegation until the complaint by the “whistleblower” has been dealt with indpendently if needed.
    Lynn Featherstone please make this a new law!!

  5. John Brace says:

    @John, London

    There already is a law – the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. It means if any employee/worker gets fired/suspended/suffers a detriment for whistleblowing they can take their employer (or former employer) to an employment tribunal (within 3 months) of when it occured.

    As to the NHS effectively dealing with complaints about the NHS, there’s a clear conflict of interest there. With the police, there’s a seperate independent police complaints commission, maybe there needs to be something like that for the NHS?

    However there are a variety of routes an NHS whistleblower can go; police, various regulators (CSCI etc), politicians (eg councillors, MP), media…

  6. Anton Venter says:

    I have been trying to speak to Lynne for months now, but she is avoiding me or her staff does not inform her.
    I am very surprised but delighted she publicly called on the Geat Ormond doctor to resign, but should she not also have the same approach to discriminators within her own Equality Commission where very arrogant senior officials regard themselves being the law and above the law? Was the Equality Commission not funded out of public money for specific purpose?

  7. Michael says:

    Response to

    John, London says:
    17 June 2011 at 12:38 am

    Please read the following links and passage,

    http://www.nhsreformgroup.com/Will-Mr.-Lansley-Truely-Help-NHS-Whistleblowers?/39.htm

    http://www.nhsreformgroup.com/NHS-Whistleblowing—After-Bristol/51.htm

    http://palvgmc.blogspot.com/

    GMC guidelines on raising 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.

  8. Printing says:

    Lynne, be careful. You are being manipulated on this issue by a doctor (not KH) who has fiddled her expenses to a level which MPs have gone to prison for.
    Do not let the Lib Dems get involved in another fradulent expenses scandal

  9. anon says:

    I agree with the above post. Why should the doctors of this great hospital be represented by someone with a personal vendetta, because his wife has a fraud issue?

  10. I am basing my views on having seen the full Sibert report and the altered addendum – not on any doctor’s views – albeit there have been quite a few who have approached me.

    Anyone can now view both versions – and the evidence of what was not shown to the Serious Case Reviews is there – in black and white.

  11. Matthew says:

    Lynne

    I really appreciate your genuineness for speaking up for patients. Please consider the following and if deems appropriate, may wish to discuss with the Health Select Committee,

    The best way for the GMC to build up its rapidly damaging reputation is to start being honest and fair by investigating NHS Medical Managers under Stream 1 (more serious) allegations and bring them before the Fitness to Practise Panel (FtPP) Hearing when they refer genuine whistleblowers to GMC with spurious complaints. If the whistleblower provides evidence of raising concerns before being referred to GMC, the case must be closed at the investigation stage (Registrar stage). This will send a clear message to all doctors to raise concerns and discourage NHS Medical Managers’ gang culture.

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!GMC must NOW stop taking anymore dictations from the NHS/Department of Health although we still believe its an uphill task for the GMC.

  12. Matthew says:

    Lynne

    I also suggest if the Government could consider rewarding whistleblowers as happens in the US. This is because, at present, there is no remedy for financial and emotional sufferings and the PIDA is full of loop holes and takes ages. By then, the complainant either dies or the full loss of earnings never recovers if the case reaches court. Despite winning the case, the legal cost is not recovered and the NHS Staff is open to further retribution.

  13. kim holt says:

    Dear All

    Can I make it clear that I raised concerns at all levels within the Trust; my employer being Great Ormond Street Hospital at the time.

    My concerns related to poor management practice within Haringey, leading to systemic issues such as loss of notes, poor booking systems etc and to a communication breakdown which made the service even more unsafe than we had raised as a paediatric team in 2006.
    I eventually went on sick leave in Feb 2007 on the advice of my GP suffering from the overwhelming stress of a massive workload in an unsupportive working environment.I was even then accused of manipulating occupational health.

    At that time there were two permanent consultants in post and the locum doctor had just joined the team. The Care Quality Commission have stated that the staffing was unacceptable at that time, and now a much higher staffing level has been recommended.

    I did blow the whistle to initially Lynn Featherstone in 2008, the Health care Commission, the SHA and eventually the press. The current issue that I am raising is how someone can be left on special leave for so long and nothing be done to prevent that. At no point have there been any criticisms of my practice ,or any disciplinary action against me. I was overworked. That was it and suddenly I was being offered money to leave; but importantly stay quiet. What I have spoken about is the use of gagging clauses by the NHS. These are supposedly banned, but seem to be used on a regular basis, and that can never be right within the NHS.
    Now I discover from the BBC investigation, (and I have also seen the Sibert report,) that the authors agreed with me. The service was clinically unsafe in 2008, still months after Baby P had been seen. These were entrenched problems. What on earth could be the explanation for keeping me on special leave for telling the truth?
    The Munroe review which recommends changes to the child protection system encourages organisations to learn from their mistakes; to develop a learning culture. Mistakes will always be made, but we need to be able to learn from that and in order to do that we need honesty, transparency and integrity.
    Can I suggest to those who are making negative comments about fellow consultants that it is inappropriate. I have had many trying to attack me personally for speaking up and it is wrong. Victimising a whistleblower is supposedly a disciplinary offence. Lets stop personally attacking each other and get back to what we should be doing which is to care for patients as well as we can and safely. Mistakes should not be hidden from scrutiny if that is what has happened here.

  14. [...] week, the home office minister Lynne Featherstone called on the chief executive of Great Ormond Street hospital, Dr Jane Collins, to resign for [...]

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