More than 50 NHS whistleblowers have claimed to have lost their jobs in efforts by bosses to silence concerns and conceal evidence when patients are harmed. The group of medics and nurses said they were targeted after raising concerns about more than 170 patient deaths and nearly 700 cases of poor care. One, who spoke to The Telegraph was Dr Patricia Mills, the whistleblower at the centre of the West Suffolk hospital bullying scandal

More than 50 NHS whistleblowers have claimed to have lost their jobs in efforts by bosses to silence concerns and conceal evidence when patients are harmed.

The group of medics and nurses said they were targeted after raising concerns about more than 170 patient deaths and nearly 700 cases of poor care.

They accused the NHS of spending millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money hiring law firms and private eyes to investigate them instead, with some driven to the brink of suicide. 

In one case, the health service spent more than £4million on legal action against a single whistleblower, including £3.2million in compensation. 

One consultant labelled the tactics ‘the biggest scandal within our country’, warning the true number of avoidable deaths was ‘astronomical’. 

More than 50 NHS whistleblowers have claimed to have lost their jobs in efforts by bosses to silence concerns and conceal evidence when patients are harmed. The group of medics and nurses said they were targeted after raising concerns about more than 170 patient deaths and nearly 700 cases of poor care. One, who spoke to The Telegraph was Dr Patricia Mills, the whistleblower at the centre of the West Suffolk hospital bullying scandal

More than 50 NHS whistleblowers have claimed to have lost their jobs in efforts by bosses to silence concerns and conceal evidence when patients are harmed. The group of medics and nurses said they were targeted after raising concerns about more than 170 patient deaths and nearly 700 cases of poor care. One, who spoke to The Telegraph was Dr Patricia Mills, the whistleblower at the centre of the West Suffolk hospital bullying scandal

Tristan Reuser, reported he had used an untrained staff member to provide non surgical assistance as a last resort to save a patient's eyesight. He claimed he only did this after nursing staff refused to help and said he had already raised concerns about this lack of assistance. The judge at his employment tribunal later found it was unfairly dismissed by his trust

Tristan Reuser, reported he had used an untrained staff member to provide non surgical assistance as a last resort to save a patient’s eyesight. He claimed he only did this after nursing staff refused to help and said he had already raised concerns about this lack of assistance. The judge at his employment tribunal later found it was unfairly dismissed by his trust

Of the 52 medical professionals interviewed by The Telegraph, 40 said their employer took ‘no positive action’ to address patient safety concerns.

Thirty-six admitted patients remained at risk at their place of work. Ten also said their employers had denied there was a problem.

Between them, they raised concerns about a total of 177 deaths and 680 instances of patient harm. 

Responding to the allegations, health secretary Victoria Atkins, said: ‘Every member of staff in the NHS should feel able to speak up without fear, and it’s essential that any concerns are taken very seriously to improve patient safety.

‘I know there is still more to do, and I am determined to make sure the NHS is a fairer place to work for all.’ 

Whistleblower surgeon ‘sacked on the spot’ and referred to the GMC on the same day 

According to The Telegraph, the 22 doctors interviewed had been referred to the General Medical Council, which regulates doctors, a total of 30 times between them, in alleged attempt to punish them for raising concerns.

Of these, 14 claimed the referrer did not correctly identify them as a whistleblower. 

One, a consultant ophthalmic surgeon, claimed he was ‘sacked on the spot’ and referred to the GMC ‘the same day’ on June 5, 2017. 

Tristan Reuser, reported he had used an untrained staff member to provide non surgical assistance as a last resort to save a patient’s eyesight. 

He claimed he only did this after nursing staff refused to help and said he had already raised concerns about this lack of assistance.

The judge at his employment tribunal later found it was unfairly dismissed by his trust.

They also said his employer should have made clear to the GMC that he was a whistleblower. 

The GMC found he had no case to answer.

Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, workers have the right ‘not to be subjected to any detriment…by his employer done on the ground that the worker has made a protected disclosure’.

Yet 25 of the 52 whistleblowers interviewed reportedly faced disciplinary action. 

Nineteen, meanwhile were suspended and 16, dismissed.

One nurse who was excluded from work after raising concerns said they were now known in their home town ‘for being this bully, and suspended and pending investigation’.

They added: ‘It is horrific what they have put me through. I haven’t murdered anyone.

‘Even if I had committed a serious crime, rather than just protecting my patients, I still deserve a fair trial, which is more than I am getting now.’

Another, Dr Rosalind Ranson, lost her job as the Isle of Man’s medical director after she raised concerns about potential medical neglect.

She whistleblew in 2020 about ‘startling’ cases of potential clinical negligence and challenged Covid policies.

She took her employer — the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) — to a tribunal and in May 2023 was awarded almost £3.2 million in compensation. 

The DHSC spent another £950,000 on legal fees and the cost of the investigation.

The tribunal judge found that she had been subjected to ‘a pattern of disgraceful behaviour’ designed to ‘make an employee feel not wanted’. 

All but seven medics and nurses also reported being the victims of victimisation, harassment, discrimination, bullying or intimidation after they blew the whistle.

Sixteen said they were inappropriately referred to psychological or psychiatric services. 

Five also claimed they were victims of vexatious referrals to the police, social services and HM Revenue and Customs.

Each was found to have no case to answer. 

The 22 doctors interviewed had also reportedly been referred to the General Medical Council, which regulates doctors, a total of 30 times between them, in alleged attempt to punish them for raising concerns.

To date, just two of the referrals resulted in a fitness to practise hearing and neither were found to have committed wrongdoing. 

Almost half (19) of the whistleblowers also claimed they had raised concerns with NHS England but were told it did not deal with individual cases. 

Dr Rosalind Ranson (pictured), lost her job as the Isle of Man’s medical director after she raised concerns about potential medical neglect. She whistleblew in 2020 about 'startling' cases of potential clinical negligence and challenged Covid policies. She took her employer — the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) — to a tribunal and in May 2023 was awarded almost £3.2 million in compensation

Dr Rosalind Ranson (pictured), lost her job as the Isle of Man’s medical director after she raised concerns about potential medical neglect. She whistleblew in 2020 about ‘startling’ cases of potential clinical negligence and challenged Covid policies. She took her employer — the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) — to a tribunal and in May 2023 was awarded almost £3.2 million in compensation

It comes just months after a scathing report by the now-former NHS ombusdman Rob Behrens (pictured) also found the NHS was beset with a culture of 'defensiveness' when patients are harmed, with hospitals 'routinely' failing to accept their errors

It comes just months after a scathing report by the now-former NHS ombusdman Rob Behrens (pictured) also found the NHS was beset with a culture of ‘defensiveness’ when patients are harmed, with hospitals ‘routinely’ failing to accept their errors

During investigations, Mr Behrens had stumbled across 'the disappearance of crucial documents after patients have died'. Latest figures suggest there are around 11,000 avoidable deaths per year in the NHS due to patient safety failings

During investigations, Mr Behrens had stumbled across ‘the disappearance of crucial documents after patients have died’. Latest figures suggest there are around 11,000 avoidable deaths per year in the NHS due to patient safety failings

One consultant claimed: ‘The treatment by NHS leadership, of those that by law are commanded to speak up and protect patients, is the biggest scandal within our country. 

‘The number of avoidable and negligent deaths and harmed patients is astronomical.’

Representatives of the whistleblowers have now called on the government to ban the suspension or exclusion of doctors for speaking out about patient safety require hospitals to have independent medical professionals assessing the claims. 

Latest figures suggest there are around 11,000 avoidable deaths per year in the NHS due to patient safety failings. 

It comes just months after a scathing report by the now-former NHS ombusdman Rob Behrens also found the NHS was beset with a culture of ‘defensiveness’ when patients are harmed, with hospitals ‘routinely’ failing to accept their errors. 

In March, Mr Behrens again warned patient safety was at risk due to ‘toxic’ and hierarchical behaviour among NHS doctors. 

He accused the NHS of, on occasions, acting in a ‘dreadful’ way to prevent bereaved families from finding out the truth, and claimed some parts of the £160billion-a-year service still put ‘reputation management’ first.

Responding to the reports, an NHS England spokesman today said: ‘It is completely unacceptable for any member of staff to feel silenced or unable to speak up about issues affecting them or patients — not only should everyone working in the NHS feel they can raise concerns but they must know that they will be acted on and that they will be treated fairly — this is vital for ensuring that the NHS learns from mistakes and provides the best possible care for patients.

‘Every NHS trust should be adopting the updated national Freedom to Speak Up policy and NHS England has recently asked all local areas to urgently ensure staff have easy access to information on how they can raise concerns, including through having a dedicated Freedom to Speak Up Guardian in place.

‘Where people are disadvantaged as a result of speaking up, NHS England has ensured there is additional help available with a national scheme in place so staff can receive additional intensive support in these circumstances.’

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