DAUK in The Guardian: Hancock sticking his head in the sand and ignoring whistleblowers

“Threatening” and “intimidating” tactics used against doctors at health secretary Matt Hancock’s local hospital has contributed to the biggest rating downgrade by the NHS regulator.

West Suffolk Hospital’s demand for fingerprints to track down a whistleblower – as revealed by the Guardian last month – was “unprecedented and concerning”, according to the Care Quality Commission (CQC). This and a series of other failings around patient safety has led to the first ever relegation of a hospital from an “outstanding” status to “requires improvement” by CQC inspectors.

The regulator’s in-depth inspection was triggered after 10 separate whistleblowers from the hospital voiced alarm. When the CQC went in they found:

-Management and doctors at loggerheads and that had led to a damaging breakdown in relationships.

-What a senior doctor at the hospital called a “‘them and us’ situation”.

-Tensions so great that they were affecting the running of the hospital’s medical services. -Staff “feared reprisals if they raised concerns”.

-Widespread concern about “bullying and harassment”.

The trust hired fingerprint and handwriting experts to track down the member of staff who had anonymously tipped off a family about medical blunders that had occurred before a patient – 57-year-old Susan Warby – died.

The Doctors’ Association UK, which represents grassroots medics, said the findings – and the review, which NHS England is undertaking – should lead to changes in the hospital’s leadership. “We do feel that this should raise questions for the health secretary. Despite previously committing to work with doctors on a Learn Not Blame culture in the NHS, Hancock appears to have stuck his head in the sand when clinicians have tried to raise concerns with him directly regarding patient safety issues. “His silence on this issue has been deafening, and will do little to reassure staff across the NHS that their concerns will be listened to.”

Excerpt from The Guardian, read the full article by Denis Campbell and Matthew Weaver here: