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June 19, 2014

Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 2:46 pm
Dear Phil, Peter B, Peter W, David
Not one promise was made in that meeting with Jeremy Hunt et al and the 6 whistleblowers yesterday despite all the coverage on bullying culture, cover ups, and payoffs for past year. Jeremy Hunt has said for months that more action will be taken yet in his letters to me he refers to tightening regulations. It’s not about regulations there are too many already. What’s needed is accountability and a proper examination of culture in troubled organisations. At the moment those doing wrong often appoint friends to ‘clear them of wrongdoing’. There are at least 40 NHS organisations involved in covering up harm in the past 3 years. The statutory responsibility falls between Regulators and NHS England. ‘Between’ being the flaw as pointed out by Francis. But equally there has been no proper independent examination of any Whistleblower case including my own. I should add that the same person who cleared Nicholson and Hakin in my case also cleared 4 other whistleblowing cases and in return was given a CEO role. So rather than address the ‘culture of fear’ this ‘reward for coverup’ positively encourages it.
An inquiry is needed as even the PAC & NAO with their powers couldn’t even get to the bottom of how many gags were in place and how much was spent. Trust used legal privilege to refuse requests for info. This is a major driver of bad culture in the NHS and despite the ban on gagging that my case eventually got, the culture of fear to speak out hasn’t changed. Evidence from staff surveys and various other smaller surveys such as those undertaken by Nursing Times suggests the culture may be worse.
It’s rarely the Minister who says no to inquiries but the civil service advising him. An example of this wrong approach: Jeremy Hunt’s SpAd called Sharmila Chowdhury after she sent a letter to Hunt cc’d to MPs a few days ago. The SpAd said “you’ve made it difficult for yourself”. This style of operating is outdated and damages Hunt. It also typifies how whistleblowers are treated. There’s been years of bad advice to Ministers. Take Andy Burnham who was advised by Flory (TDA) and Naylor (UCL) not to hold the Mid Staffs inquiry. He accepted to me that was a mistake.
Parliament must hold an inquiry and never forget that whistleblowers raised concern about patient safety. In my case many patients died needlessly because of the coverup that followed. I highlight just one death (Ray Law) and 20+ whistleblowers in the attached slides (no.s 4,5,7)
I will help in any way I can.
Gary Walker
Former NHS CEO