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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 February 2017

Stop victimising NHS whistleblowers

Whistleblowers should be protected, not persecuted, photo by adil113 (Creative Commons)

Whistleblowers should be protected, not persecuted, photo by adil113 (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Nigel Gilbert, Worcester

In Worcestershire, Socialist Party members have played a leading role in a campaign against abuse of NHS staff. 'Betrayed by Their Trust' (BBTT) will have its second annual general meeting in February.

Every BBTT complaint meets a brick wall. No abuse is ever admitted by the two trusts we deal with. They are backed up by every bit of the NHS which is supposed to monitor them.

The MPs are not interested. The Wyre Forest Tory MP, Mark Garnier, went so far as to tell BBTT that it would not be right if he could tell a trust what to do. They are beyond democratic control.

The situation in the county is dire. At New Year, two patients died on trollies waiting at Worcester A&E. One had apparently waited 35 hours.

Recruitment across the board is difficult and mental health services are being cut to the bone.

To keep the lid on all this, the two trusts bully and intimidate staff into silence. BBTT deals with the worst cases.

One of these is a whistleblower, radiographer Ken Hall. For two years he tried to expose a backlog of unexamined x-rays and scans. Finally, a report by hospitals regulator CQC in November revealed a backlog of 25,622 such images!

We estimate that perhaps 80 people suffered unnecessary damage, and some may even have died. After being hounded for two years, Ken was struck off by his regulator, the HCPC, on supposedly separate allegations of misconduct.

In our view, the hearing panel did not properly consider the high-pressure context of Ken's victimisation as a whistleblower, correspondence from a senior manager contradicting one of the trust's own allegations, or that Ken's barrister could not attend the hearing date.

NHS trusts should be abolished, along with the entire edifice of unaccountable bureaucrats. They should be replaced by public servants directly accountable to elected bodies. There should also be local assemblies for workers and members of the public with decision-making powers concerning serious issues of policy. Whistleblowers and other abused staff should be able to have their cases heard at these assemblies by their peers.

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In The Socialist 22 February 2017:

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