The Curious Case of Dr Chris Day, the Tories & the BMA – Warning from a Whistleblower

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The suppression of NHS whistleblowers has set a precedent that could have knock on affects for whistleblowers in other industries. Public servants wanting to report fraudulent spending of public funds are no longer guaranteed protection. Carers wanting to report your gran being abused are no longer guaranteed protection. Builders wanting to report the sort of breach of regulations that lead to the #Grenfell disaster are no longer guaranteed protection.

It’s a shoot the messenger tactic that cannot be allowed to stand. This is the tale of one such whistleblower:

In 2014 Dr Chris Day was a junior doctor working on the intensive care unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, which at night routinely did not adhere to national staffing levels, putting patients at risk and placing huge stresses on the competent & dedicated staff. Escalation of the care of patients who were deteriorating, was, as a consequence, poor. There was also a poor culture of incident reporting.
NHS standards dictate that each consultant is not supposed to be assigned more than 8 patients. At the time Dr. Day made his complaint, there were 19 patients to each consultant.
Day made a protected disclosure detailing his concerns on the night of January 10th 2014, but the NHS trust and Health Education England(HEE) decided not to act on them, terminating his contract on what Day believes were false allegations, stalling his progress to become a consultant.
HEE is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department of Health, which – with local deaneries – recruits doctors in training, supplying them to various trusts, monitoring & appraising them.

Like many whistleblowers, Dr. Day was forced down an employment tribunal route. His legal team argued that HEE should be held accountable for any detriment he has suffered under employment and whistleblowing law. In taking the case to court in 2015, Dr. Day discovered that the government was arguing that in effect 54,000 Doctors in the NHS were not covered under whistleblowing law.

Jeremy Hunt claims to have appointed “freedom to speak up guardians” to every Trust with a National Guardian to oversee them but these Guardians have no defined responsibilities other than to receive government mandated disclosures and release innocuous data about them. Many are under the line management of the Tory Government, and so there is a distinct conflict of interest when whistleblowers raise concern about the after affects of Tory Government policy.

“Whistleblowers frequently perceive that these regulators close ranks to suppress their concerns.” – Dr. M. Alexander, Whistleblower Protection Campaigner.

In May 2017 the COurt of Appeal found that Jeremy Hunt & HEE’s arguments to deprive 54,000 doctors of whistleblowing protection were legally flawed – a victory for the NHS that is due almost entirely to Dr. Day’s commendable persistence.

Dr. Day now faces a long battle through the courts to prove that HEE and the Tory Health Department under Jeremy Hunt tried to destroy his career in an effort to suppress him and the information he wished to highlight.

In July 2017, three years after Dr. Day first raised his concerns, an independent review found that he was wholly justified in his complaints. The review detailed:

“a lack of medical leadership, low consultant staffing levels & inadequate clinical governance”

Had Jeremy Hunt & the NHS listened to Dr Day back in 2014, all of this might have been avoided. So why have the Tory Health Secretary and HEE spent millions of taxpayers money trying to silence Dr Day?

In 2013, the London Healthcare Trust’s finances were crippled by the Blairite policy of PFI. Forced into a bankruptcy regime the Hospitals in the Trust made savage cuts at the behest of the government appointed administrator. The savage cuts hit staff morale and recruitment very hard.

The government’s actions may have precipitated the crisis at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and so it is no wonder Jeremy Hunt wishes to shut Dr. Day up, no matter how much taxpayer’s money that takes.