Category Archives: NHS managers

Stroke survivors ‘are dumped by the NHS’. Dead patients don’t vote, and those near death don’t appear to count…

If you have a stroke on your way to the hereafter, your life expectancy is short, demand for services is high, and nobody listens to you, even if you can be understood.  Dumped is the right political word. Congratulations to the reporter on his understatement however, The real word, especially with regard to intensive physiotherapy, is abandoned. Dead patients don’t vote, and those near death don’t appear to count. Commissioners have a perverse incentive to save money, richer areas can have more physio as more patients go privately, and the post-coded, covert rationing lottery continues..

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Jon Ungoed-Thomas in the Sunday Times reports: Stroke survivors ‘are dumped by the NHS’

Sufferers feel abandoned after leaving hospital and face waiting up to a year for the right treatment — or paying for it themselves

Stroke survivors are being left to languish at home with a “shocking” lack of support. Many say they feel abandoned by the NHS.
Juliet Bouverie, chief executive of the Stroke Association, said a new national plan was required to help the 1.2m stroke survivors in the UK. Some have to wait up to 12 months for psychological help.
“As a stroke survivor, your life and the life of your family is turned upside down,” she said. “Many stroke survivors say they feel abandoned, as if they have dropped off a cliff. The provision in some areas is shocking.”
About 100,000 people suffer a stroke every year in the UK; it is one of the country’s leading causes of death.
Andrew Marr, the broadcaster and journalist, who suffered a stroke in January 2013, said better support for stroke survivors — many of whom are of working age — could help them return more quickly to employment. He was back at work within six months, but largely because he paid for additional physiotherapy.

Stroke survivors can wait up to four months for speech therapy and up to a year for psychological support, according to data from the Royal College of Physicians. Stroke survivors say there is insufficient physiotherapy, a treatment which would ensure the best recovery.

Andrew Marr, who had a stroke in 2013, paid for physiotherapy to help him get back to work sooner<img class=”Media-img” src=”//www.thetimes.co.uk/imageserver/image/methode%2Fsundaytimes%2Fprod%2Fweb%2Fbin%2Ffa4fb670-698c-11e7-8ef4-9d945f972597.jpg?crop=2250%2C1500%2C-0%2C-0″ alt=”Andrew Marr, who had a stroke in 2013, paid for physiotherapy to help him get back to work sooner”>
Andrew Marr, who had a stroke in 2013, paid for physiotherapy to help him get back to work soonerDavid Cheskin/PA

A stroke strategy, launched in 2007, outlined a 10-year plan to overhaul stroke services and has seen significant improvement in acute treatment. The Stroke Association is calling for a new action plan to build on improvements and outline a new strategy for the rehabilitation of stroke victims.

Nathan Ridgard, 40, a self-employed businessman and a father-of-two from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, suffered a stroke on New Year’s Eve 2012. After being discharged from hospital, he said he was given some leaflets by the NHS on coping with a stroke, but struggled to read them because of his poor vision.

“I just felt I had been dumped out in the world,” he said. He received some NHS physiotherapy, but also paid for private sessions to supplement them. He has since made a good recovery.

Professor Tony Rudd, National Clinical Director for stroke at NHS England, said: “The quality of care and survival rates for stroke are now at record highs. We are working with the Royal College of Physicians and others local health service leaders to improve rehabilitation care for everyone who suffers a stroke.”

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Reflections on the BMA conference in Bournemouth. A complete lack of trust..

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ARM 2017 in Bournemouth

The annual representative meeting (ARM) is the BMA’s main policy-making body. Around 500 doctors from across the profession and the UK gather to consider and debate key matters of interest to the medical profession.

I have never been to a BMA conference before. his conference from 25-19th June was an eye opener. The volume of business, and the number of people was daunting. Agenda items ranged from the political to the clinical. and some of us thought some issues would be best addressed by politicians. Throughout the meeting there was a complete lack of trust by doctors of government, dishonesty, and denial by politicians and administrators, and resulting anger and resentment in the body politic. This is spreading beyond the profession and the unrest following the Grenfell tower will be as nothing to the unrest as the health safety net is seen to fail.

BMA council chair Mark Porter – opening speech  – Health Service running on fumes

STPs(Stick Toffee Puddings , or Slash Trash and Privatise

Agenda Items on Monday of which I as speaking at 1:34 into the meeting

Dr Roger Burns speaks up abut West Wales. (https://pharmaphorum.com/news/millions-affected-nhs-cuts-doctors/#) in response to Motion 16 (I):

Recognises that greater medical involvement in the design and planning of health care is crucial in ensuring that improved patient services are properly designed and effectively implemented.

There were plenty of retired members present, of whom I am one. It looks as if the retired members are trusted to represent their younger and busier colleagues. What is need is a way to vote from a distance. Members need to log into the website and watch a webcam and be prepared to vote at an instant. This would allow members to check in and relate to any particular motion but ignore others.

There was a couple of motions with the implication of rationing, but without mentioning the word itself:

Motion 12 (v) “Calls for government and NHS lead bodies to have an open dialogue with the public and patients about what services the NHS should provide for the funding available, and what services should no longer be funded by the NHS.

New attendees need to be aware that they need a speedy induction if they are to take advantage of the opportunity to speak. New conference members, and those who vote against a motion are given preference. I spoke out about the reconfiguration of Wales Health Trusts. NHSreality is in favour of one NHS trust for 3 million people, and this would at least endure choice within Wales. I spoke against the motion on the grounds that it failed to mention rationing, and the need for the politicians to get on board with this concept before we can make sense of the health service, and bring the hearts and minds of the doctors on board. Sometimes “hard truths” need to be said. Napoleon did this with the French after their revolution. By offering to bring order he took away a little liberty. Lack of choice is a loss of liberty, but it may be worth it if standards of treatment for important and expensive problems rise.

All local BMA groups need to plan ahead of the ARM to present notices of motion. Clinical and social meetings are also needed, and could be combined with politics.. My suggestions to be considered for the future include:

Wales residents should be given choices within Wales. If this can only be facilitated by one Health Trust then we support this proposal.

All Wales staff should be offered exit interviews by the BMA, and if they wish, in conjunction with other organisations such as the Nurses and Midwives, and other professions. Since no credence would be given to a summarised internal HR report, external consultants should be charged with this task.

In West Wales infrastructure needs to be improved, especially for travel, but also to replace old buildings and plant.

Medical Publications should always inform the reader if the paper was rejected by another publisher. The on line information should then reveal why rejection occurred.

All Wales BMA members should be offered the option of group/mutual medical insurance

and for local debate: A decision not to build a new hospital at Whitland / Narberth in 1996 is to be regretted.

Henry Bodkin in the Telegraph 27th June: Doctors call for abortion on demand as BMA votes to decriminalise terminations for first time ever 

Ann Furedi comments for BPAS: Why UK abortion laws should be scrapped – they are 50 years out of date 

Pharmforum comments on STPs on June 28th: Millions will be affected by STP health service cuts, say doctors

Hunt stayed silent over 700,000 lost letters to patients (The Telegraph)

Crowdfunding of Wheelchairs

UK falls behind in International league of doctor numbers (BMJ)

Government using GPs as scapegoats instead of taking responsibility for crisis in NHS

Margaret McCartney: Health inequality has to be political BMJ 2017;357:j2978

 

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BMA annual meeting: GPs working at unsafe levels should issue “black alert”-style warnings, says BMA (Wales sees steep rise in “at risk” surgeries.

Frances Gibb in the Times 27th June: Medical negligence payouts ‘unaffordable’

Doctors call for national rules on OTC prescribing (BMJ 25th March)

BBC2: Hospital – How do you cost life? 

Kat Lay in the Times 12th June: NHS blocks drug to help babies with spinal muscular atrophy

London commissioning group plans to restrict cataract surgery

Oliver \moody on 26th June: NHS urged to find money for cystic fibrosis drug

Kat Lay: ‘Overworked’ GPs demand to close their surgery doors

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Leimyoscarcoma treatment options unfair…. in west Wales where choice is anathema.

I do not mind if something/some service is denied to everyone in the UK paying into the same mutual. What I do not like to hear is when someone in my town and post code is denied a treatment which is available in London. The National Sarcoma centre is at the Marsden, and there is a National Sarcoma Service. Unfortunately, unbeknown to the citizens and taxpayers of Pembrokeshire, until they suffer from sarcoma, is that this service is not available to them. This is what NHSreality calls COVERT rationing because one is not aware of it in advance. Net result is that money is raised, and this one patient gets “private” care. What about all the others in Wales? Local exclusion would be all very well for high volume low cost treatments, (this is not allowed) but is patently unjust for low volume high cost treatments. (allowed under the current “rules of the game”) Will the trust respond by saying they feel this is reasonable rationing? No way. They will use the words exclusion, restriction or prioritisation to justify their position. As a trust in special measures ( bankrupt and getting worse) it is not surprising they wish to save money… and the treatment may be poor value for money but this shows how unfair the situation is for those in West Wales, and it is repeated across many specialities and treatments.

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BBC News reports today 23rd June 2017: Haverfordwest mum’s ‘roadblocks’ to SIRT cancer treatment

NHS Wales has been accused of “not being set up to deal with” certain types of cancer.

Anca Falconer, 36, from Pembrokeshire, was diagnosed with Leiomyosarcoma (LMS), a type of soft tissue sarcoma, just days after giving birth in 2010.

Her request for specialist treatment in England was refused.

The Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee said the success of Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) “has not currently been established.”

Mrs Falconer, who lives in Haverfordwest, initially underwent extensive surgery and chemotherapy for her rare liver cancer, but it returned.

Her first request to the committee was rejected in 2013 on funding grounds, and her cancer consultant refused to submit another application, describing the efforts as being “futile”, and she was told she would have to find the money herself.

Fundraising efforts allowed her to receive the first round of SIRT, which involves injecting radioactive microbeads into the liver, at a cost of £10,000.

Mrs Falconer, who had been bedbound for about three months, said she felt transformed after the treatment.

“Within days I was able to stand up again. I can play with Mary and take her to school,” she said. “I had lost hope before.”

The second round of treatment costs £20,000 and is due by late August.

Mrs Falconer’s husband, Richard, 51, said NHS Wales was “not set up to deal with soft tissue sarcomas” with many of the specialist centres in England.

He added that he thought experts in Wales had “given up on his wife” four years ago and that she had received “nothing more than palliative care” and “roadblocks to all curative options that should have been on the table”.

Dr Sian Lewis, medical director for the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee, said the “clinical effectiveness” of SIRT for the treatment of liver cancer “has not currently been established”.

She said it is only available to a limited number of patients in NHS England as part of a programme to assess its effectiveness.

The Welsh Government said NHS Wales will make a decision regarding the routine commissioning of SIRT when the results of the evaluation become available next year.

False hopes

Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, which provided chemotherapy to Mrs Falconer, said if previous funding requests have been declined by the committee any subsequent submission has to contain “new clinical evidence”.

A statement from the health board said, while it could not comment on Mrs Falconer’s case, its “clinicians fully appreciate the distressing situation its patients are in”.

“It’s because of this they would never consider falsely getting a patient’s hopes up by resubmitting an already declined request when there is no new clinical evidence available.”

Hywel Dda University Health Board has also been asked to comment.

September 2016 – Mark Smith for Walesonline: Three Welsh health boards have been placed under additional Welsh Government scrutiny

Cardiff and Vale, ABMU and Hywel Dda are just one level short of ‘special measures’

Adrian O’Dowd in the BMJ 15th June 2017: Trusts boost ratings by engaging staff and including clinicians in management

Adrian Dowd in the BMJ 23rd June 2017 : The only way is up: the “special measures” trust that got back on its feet

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Health Reform – Rationing for rare and complex conditions is wrong, and against the concept of a “mutual”.

In the Times this letter from many oranisations on 10th May 2017, under the title “HEALTH REFORMS PLEA” got little publicity because of the Media focus on Brexit. Health Reform – Rationing for rare and complex conditions is wrong, and against the concept of a “mutual”. Is the great thing about a democracy is that the citizens get what they deserve…..  or is it that the uninformed can be led by a right wing press? Governments ration covertly, and it is much more sensible to ration those whose votes count least. Its going to get worse I’m afraid… A Health Tax is a non starter, but so are Sticky Toffee Puddings.
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Sir, We want to see an NHS that provides high-quality care, support and treatment to everyone who needs it — and to ensure that our voice is heard during the general election campaign. In particular, we want all politicians standing for election to know of our deep concern with the reforms to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) that the government and NHS England implemented from April 1. These reforms stand to restrict and ration treatments for people with rare and complex conditions, and were implemented without the agreement of parliament.

With that in mind, we urge political parties to commit in their manifestos to reverse these recent reforms, and to guarantee that any future reforms will be considered by parliament before being implemented. We also ask that any decisions to restrict the availability of Nice-approved treatments are taken by democratically-elected politicians.
Deborah Bent, Charity Manager, Limbless Association; David Bickers, CEO, Douglas Bader Foundation; Kay Boycott, CEO, Asthma UK; Roger Brown, Chair, Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia UK; Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information, Muscular Dystrophy UK; Liz Carroll, CEO, The Haemophilia Society; Tanya Collin-Histed, CEO, Gauchers Association; Ann Chivers, CEO, Alström Syndrome UK; Genevieve Edwards, Director of External Affairs, MS Society; Sue Farrington, CEO, Scleroderma & Raynaud’s UK; Steve Ford, CEO, Parkinson’s UK; Kye Gbangbola, Chair, Sickle Cell Society; Deborah Gold, CEO, National AIDS Trust; Caroline Harding, CEO, Genetic Disorders UK; Tess Harris, CEO, The Polycystic Kidney Disease Charity; Dr Lesley Kavi, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome UK (PoTS UK); Anne Keatley-Clarke, CEO, Children’s Heart Federation; Caroline Morrice, CEO, GAIN; Allan Muir, Development Director and Type II Co-ordinator, Association for Glycogen Storage Disease (UK); Patricia Osborne, CEO, Brittle Bone Society; Jill Prawer, Founder and Chair, LPLD Alliance; Lynne Regent, CEO, Anaphylaxis Campaign; Richard Rogerson, Niemann-Pick UK; David Ryner, The CML Support Group; Timothy Statham OBE, CEO, National Kidney Federation; Laura Szutowicz, CEO, HAE UK; Paddy Tabor, CEO, British Kidney Patient Association; Jeremy Taylor, CEO, National Voices; Oliver Timmis, CEO, Alkaptonuria (AKU) Society; Gabriel Theophanous, President, UK Thalassaemia Society; Sarah Vibert, CEO, The Neurological Alliance; Dr Susan Walsh, Director, Primary Immunodeficiency UK

Chris Smyth reports a day later, May 11th: Hospital bosses demand another overhaul to sort minister’s mess

….new laws to overhaul the health service are likely to be needed by the end of the next parliament even though they are still struggling to implement the most recent changes…..One STP head said: “It’s a huge problem. Everything takes ages, but the difficulty with legislation is that it’s an implicit recognition that Andrew Lansley f***ed everything up.”…..Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation of senior managers, said: “It’s a no-brainer that you will need at some point a legislative underpinning for the structures….Senior Conservatives regretted the changes almost immediately, with one cabinet minister saying it was the coalition’s biggest mistake. The disruption distracted from the central task of making big financial savings and when Mr Lansley was demoted in 2012, his vision failed to take. Simon Stevens began reversing key elements of the reforms barely two years after they were completed.

Read the full article below..

Hospital bosses demand another overhaul to sort minister’s mess

The debate is puerile. There is no addressing the real issues..

Chris Smyth: Ageing population brings risk of stroke epidemic

Chris Smyth: Saving for dementia bill would take century

Andrew Harrap: This could be the health tax election

Sustainability and transformation (rationing) plans – surely STPs deserve a better acronym…

The Inefficient English Health Service is compared with the German one. Hypothecated Taxation with choice of provider?

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GP leaders to debate future of NHS, industrial action and ‘zombie GPs’. “GPs’ first priority must be their own health”..

The most important word any resilient GP needs to learn is how to say “No”. Our profession is well paid, and the argument is not about pay. The conditions of work, the restriction of choices, and the shape of the job have become so onerous that many feel like zombies. In a national incident such as a train crash the Drs need to ensure they are safe before treating the victims. They need to secure the site. They need to make decisions which perhaps amputate on site, or allow some victims pain killers only, whilst others are saved. The train crash which the UK health services are now having is similar. As Clare Gerada is correct; “we have to look after ourselves  first”.

Nick Bostock reports on GPonline 3rd May 2017: GP leaders to debate future of NHS, industrial action and ‘zombie GPs’

GP leaders at next month’s LMCs conference will discuss whether the NHS can survive chronic underfunding, whether GP contractor status has ‘reached the end of the road, and whether industrial action should be back on the table to defend the profession.

The conference in Edinburgh on 18-19 May could also discuss whether deceased GPs could be resurrected to ease the GP workforce crisis, and call for health secretary Jeremy Hunt to be sacked ‘for presiding over the worst time in the history of the NHS, missing targets, longer waiting lists and low morale’.

Pressure looks to be growing from the profession for a wide-ranging overhaul of GP funding, with LMCs set to warn that overall funding is too low, and that distribution through the Carr-Hill formula and other contract mechanisms is unfair.

Motions put forward by LMCs warn that no funding mechanism will deliver fair funding for GP practices until overall funding is increased. The GPC warned earlier this year that despite pledges to raise funding through NHS England’s GP Forward View, the profession remains underfunded by billions of pounds.

GP funding

But LMCs will question whether the existing funding formula gets the balance right between different priorities, with a motion put forward by Glasgow LMC warning that ‘careful consideration has to be given to the balance of the funding formula between deprived patients, remote and rural patients, elderly patients and those patients not in any of these groups who may face their funding being eroded’.

GP leaders will also call for a list of core GP services to be defined – a step the GPC has long opposed – in part to maintain services as new care models take shape across the NHS. The GPC has consistently argued that it is simpler to define non-core work, for example using its Urgent Prescription document to list services that practices should receive additional funding for.

The conference will also hit out at the rising cost of indemnity, warning that increased fees are driving GPs out of the profession. LMCs will argue for greater transparency from medico-legal organisations about risk criteria that can lead to sharp rises for individual GPs.

GPs will also warn that contract uplifts have not covered rising indemnity costs in full, and that direct reimbursement of costs would be a better option for practices than payments based on list size.

Locum GPs

Plans to improve communication with sessional GPs, with a proposal for a ‘national communications strategy to secure adequate communication of guidelines and patient safety communications to locums’ will also be discussed at the conference.

Broader ‘themed debates’ at the conference will discuss issues such as NHS rationing, independent contractor status, working at scale and workload.

One debate will look at whether the NHS can survive given overall underfunding, and whether co-payments for services should be considered. Another will consider whether independent contractor status has reached the end of the road and how it could be protected.

Further debates will look at whether GPs should remain within the NHS – in Northern Ireland GPs have suggested they will quit the NHS en masse if two thirds of practices hand in resignations – and whether there is ‘still a need to consider appropriate forms of action, and would this be effective or counter-productive’.

Another debate will encourage GPs to discuss whether the QOF has reached the end of its useful life – as NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has suggested.

A motion put forward by Shropshire LMC, meanwhile, suggests ‘the urgent funding of a bioengineering program designed to immediately triple-clone all UK GPs, including the recently retired, in order to facilitate our prime minister’s glorious vision of a truly 24/7 health service’.

It adds: ‘The project should ideally extend to exploration of the resurrection of deceased general practitioners, though conference acknowledges that some health consumers might find zombie GPs unpalatable at first (assuming they even notice the difference.) However, we believe that public fears about human cloning and the walking dead could be swiftly allayed by the persuasive powers of the undisputedly veracious Mr Jeremy Hunt.’

Alex Matthews-King in Pulse 24th April reports: NHS England asks CCGs for rationing heads-up following media scrutiny

Isabella Laws on 2nd May reports Clare Gerada: GPs’ first priority must be their own health, warns former RCGP chair – GPs must put maintaining their own health above caring for patients and running their practices, former RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada has warned.

It’s the shape of the GP’s job that needs to change. The pharmacist will see you now: overstretched GPs get help…The fundamental ideology of the Health Services’ provision. Funding of this type admits 30 years’ manpower planning failure

NHS ‘is like a train just before a crash’ (and it is now happennin g in slow motion)

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NHS managers still growing as GP posts fall

The Observer reports 15th April 2017: Number of NHS managers still growing as GP posts fall again – Doctors say ministers’ ‘bureaucracy busting’ shakeup has failed to switch resources and manpower to the front line

The number of NHS managers has grown by almost 18% in the four years since the government introduced a “bureaucracy-busting” shakeup of the health service, according to the latest official data.

The rise of about 4,650 in total management posts since April 2013, when the controversial Health and Social Care Act came into force, contrasts with an alarming fall in the number of GPs over recent months at a time of unprecedented demand for health care. The figures have drawn criticism from the British Medical Association (BMA), who say ministers are failing in their central objective of shifting more resources and manpower from back-office posts to the front line….

Managers are at odds over rationing, and management recognises the case, but the “rules” don’t allow them to speak out.

 

Scotland and Whistleblowing

NHSreality takes the view that since morale is so low, no internal assessment of a whistleblower is possible. Cultural change needs to come quickly, and the start of this is meaningful “exit interviews” by an independent HR company. This company should report in general publically, for a Region, but specifically, in private to Health Boards. Copies of reports should go to the Minister concerned, and should be released once they are not embarrassing to individuals concerned. Incognito exit interviews could then be possible, and done for all staff moving or leaving posts; in particular juniors. I have delayed this post for 3 months hoping there would be some good news follow up… Post will be updated if there is. Some “good news” – Hywel Dda Trust in West Wales have told the consultants that they will initiate exit interviews. At least they are recognising their importance – now they need to recognise the barriers to speaking honestly to their own HR, especially for those moving post within the Trust, but even for those at retirement. The Health Services are on fire… Interesting that the problem has been deferred to the Health and Sports committee… reminds me of “turfing”, or passing the buck in the House of God. (Sam Shemm 1978)

Update 15th March 2017 from 17th Feb 2017:

Hello, If you want to read the transcript of the Petitions Committee meeting where MSP’s quiz Edinburgh Council, Public Concern at Work (PCAW) and Unison on whistleblowing read it here and you can see the video here which last 45 minutes. The Council scheme comes over as having overcome the culture of fear around when I worked there and contrasts hugely with NHS arrangements. The Council reps pointed out that they’d had 53 reports in the 3 years since it was introduced compared to only 3 disclosures over 8 years prior. PCAW said NHS Scotland needed better arrangements but disappointingly said nothing  about the shortcomings of Scotland’s Board Champions, who can’t take or deal with reports (even though I’ve heard they think this is a problem). Unison didn’t really say anything. The next landmark will be on 2nd March when the NHS Scotland Chief Executive, Paul Gray, is called to account.

Important news – the Scotsman reported that “the Parliamentary Health Committee has commenced an enquiry to investigate how the NHS deals with whistleblowers amid concerns there is a culture of fear which discourages staff from raising patient safety issues. NHS staff are to be asked for their views as part of the inquiry launched by MSPs on Holyrood’s health and sport committee.”
More details can be found on the Parliament website “Call for written views on Inquiry into NHS Governance – Creating a culture of improvement” at http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/103512.aspx The Committee is considering whether staff are managed in a fair and effective way.

 And on 5th March 2017:

Hello, The evidence submitted by the NHS Chief Executive, Paul Gray, to Petitions Committee on the 2nd March was underwhelming. The MSPs gave him an easy ride. You can view the 45 minute video here: http://www.scottishparliament.tv/20170302_public_pets?in=00:00:17&out=00:45:04 The transcription is here: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=10824

I was surprised that the Chair brought up grievances at the beginning, ignoring the fact that staff only bring grievances after they feel they have been unfairly treated. Why did she not ask not ask directly for views on the petition? Indeed, it felt as if they’d rehearsed the whole discussion beforehand. There were no questions as to the efficacy of the whistleblowing champions – in having no staff-facing role, with no means to knowing how many (and when) concerns were raised.  At no point did the well-known victimised whistleblowers at Aberdeen, Forth Valley, Ayrshire & Arran and Lothian get a mention, and how they could have been better protected- and no mention of Robert Francis’s recommendations. The only point at which any MSP acknowledged they’d read any of the submissions was when Paul Gray was quizzed about the falling number of helpline calls – to which the Chief Exec answered that the “bottled-up” frustrations in 2013 had created a “spike” – and also, due to ongoing improvements, staff had less need – so there was little, on an ongoing basis, to worry about. There were no references by the MSPs to the staff survey showing fear at speaking up and no calls for it to be run again. Whilst it was acknowledged that an independent whistleblowing officer would be good, it sounded like another consultation was  likely in August – (although they already consulted on this a couple of years ago, so maybe this would be the precursor to a Parliamentary Bill).

Interestingly, the Scotsman managed to make the evidence look newsworthy- see “Health staff fear consequences of whistle-blowing, NHS Scotland chief tells MSPs” here.

Anyway, the Petitions Committee concluded that they would now refer the petition onto the Health & Sports Committee for consideration. We can only hope that they seriously consider what the petition proposes. At no stage did the Petitions Committee express a view on the petition. Sigh.

Thus my petition has followed its course. If it is to go anywhere now, that will depend if the Health Committee. Let’s hope they’ll really discuss the subject properly.

They are currently conducting an inquiry into NHS Governance – Creating a culture of improvement. Whistleblowing fits well. The call for evidence has another 9 days to go – please send something in if you can; I know a few of you have– you can do it confidentially, if you wish.

So I won’t be sending you any more “Update” emails, unless you want updates on the Health Committee’s conclusions. If you would like that, please let me know.

You can submit your evidence openly, anonymously or confidentially. But you only have until the 15th March, just four weeks, to do so. I’ll be writing in – hope any of you at the NHS (either past or present) with views will do too. This represents a real opportunity to call for change.

 

Peter Gregson wrote 4th December 2016:

The Petitions Committee considered the petition again on 24th Nov. The official (verbatim) report is here: https://shar.es/18jO8j

You can view their 6-minute deliberation on the webcast at http://www.scottishparliament.tv/Search/Index/1548bdac-8fee-42b8-8e00-d890656e9e1a – it starts 52mins 34 seconds in and runs onto 58.05. In a nutshell, the Committee now wants to hear from the Chief Exec of NHS Scotland and “representatives of whistleblower organisations”. They suggested the unions, especially Unison. The minute  of the meeting states “The Committee agreed to invite the Chief Executive of NHS Scotland and other relevant stakeholders including the City of Edinburgh Council, Public Concern at Work and trade unions, to provide oral evidence at a future meeting.”

I immediately wrote to the Chair of the Committee and the other four MSPs, suggesting that I could assist with whistleblowing organisations, individual whistleblowers (Rab Wilson, ex-nurse, of Ayrshire & Arran has offered) and asking they try again to contact the English Health trusts (there are 3 in all). No response yet.

I subsequently did some searching and found Whistleblowers UK who assist whistleblowers and give support at tribunals. They have been around a bit more than a year and their website is at http://www.wbuk.org/. They have a helpline for whistleblowers (and no – it isn’t like PCAW at all!). I spoke with their chief exec and she may be able to come up from London to the Scottish Parliament, or send in a submission.

A Scottish whistleblower has been in touch with me saying that if evidence could be taken with the webcam switched off, then they would like to attend to speak to Committee. If any of you feel the same way, please let me know and I will relay this to Johann Lamont.

If you have time, you might like to read the 10 submissions that have come in from Scottish NHS chief execs on the Parliament website here. Only one institution has been positive- the City of Edinburgh Council – and there is a negative one from Unison. A reversal of fortunes from three years ago, when each of these body’s positions were the opposite of what they are now, when I last petitioned for a hotline for local authority staff.

I urge you to read the Edinburgh Council submission that shows how their hotline actually works and the difference it makes- the link is here (I had also petitioned them too, back in 2013). I was also pleased Dr Peter Gordon wrote in – the support of clinicians is key to securing change. Finally, my comment on all the submissions was published as well (Petitioner letter of 9th Nov).

I think the Petitions Committee will revisit the petition with the NHS Chief Exec, probably in late January. I think that will be a very telling meeting – I’ll keep you posted.

 Other news- my FOI to Grampian Health Board on the costs of Professor Krukowski’s treatment has been refused again (see their response here ) so I have now submitted an appeal to the Information Commissioner.

Other news is that on 22nd Oct at their conference, the Scottish Green party adopted this motion, thanks to one of our campaigners:

The Trade Union Group conference identified that existing policy is not clear about the role of trade union representatives on boards. Experience has shown that partnership working between trade unions and management, for example on Health Boards, can be used to incorporate unions into the agenda of management. This motion is supported by SGP TUG.

 …For publicly funded bodies (such as the NHS, local authorities, education institutions, etc.), which have a distinct and particular responsibility to protect employees and those using the services they provide, such measures should include the establishment of a whistleblowing hotline, independently managed by an organisation invested with powers of investigation and disciplinary powers will provide an additional mechanism to ensure good practice is adhered to and wrongdoing is addressed.” 

Best wishes

Pete Gregson

www.kidsnotsuits.com/nhs-staff-whistleblower-hotline-parliamentary-petition/