The new head of the NHS is to meet one of the country’s most prominent whistleblowers who has won a decade-long fight to clear his name.
Raj Mattu, one of Britain’s leading heart doctors before he was suspended by his NHS trust after raising concerns about deaths on his ward, was found to have been unfairly dismissed in a landmark employment tribunal last week.
His case became a cause célèbre after officials at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust fought a 12-year legal and public relations battle to gag him at a reported cost of between £6 million and £10 million.
Dr Mattu, 54, said that Simon Stevens, who became the chief executive of NHS England earlier this month and pledged radical, patient-centred reforms, has arranged to meet him to discuss the way the health service handles whistleblowing.
He said that he would show Mr Stevens how NHS officials tried to squash dissent, and that he would press for a panel of whistleblowers to be consulted about any changes to the system.
“It’s time the NHS senior executives found out what the relatively senior managers do,” Dr Mattu said. “They are faced with a situation where they can embrace my concerns and we can work together to solve it, or [they are] so concerned about their own position that they try to discredit me.”
He accused NHS officials of compiling dossiers of allegations against whistleblowers so their claims would be lost at an employment tribunal, and said neither he nor the nurses who raised complaints about overcrowding in the Walsgrave Hospital, Coventry, had ever been interviewed about it.
I am afraid that very little will change the “alarming culture of fear” unless the politicians listen to the evidence and change their instructions to the Chairman and CEOs. They need to instruct them to give exit interviews, and to say they will not get a gong if they don’t……
Whistleblowing and the NHS culture of fear. letters in The Times