Health

NHS 'whistleblower' demands apology and comparable job

Gary Walker

A former NHS boss who says he was sacked for raising patient safety concerns has asked the health secretary for an apology and a "comparable" job.

In a letter to Jeremy Hunt, ex-United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust boss Gary Walker argues he is a whistleblower whose actions have been vindicated.

But he says he has been blacklisted from working for the health service.

The Department of Health in England says it will be looking carefully at the issues raised in the letter.

Gary Walker's letter says that, as chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, he warned senior health officials that patients would come to harm if it was forced to comply with NHS targets.

The letter sets out, point-by-point, why he believes he is a whistleblower, and how - in his view - this led to his dismissal and being blacklisted by the NHS.

He goes on to argue that his actions were vindicated by events, as evidence grew of rising death rates and a high number of safety incidents, but says he was "gagged" by a compromise agreement, which he broke two years ago.

Mr Walker cites recent reports that looked into whistleblowing from the health select committee of MPs and Sir Robert Francis QC as supporting his call for an apology and "practical redress".

He writes: "The practical redress you offer will need to be individual to those who raised concerns and the harm they suffered but I would expect that whistle-blowers simply want an apology and a job that is comparable to the one they were forced from."

'High-achiever'

The letter is copied to the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.

It also includes a full CV which, he says represents a "highly successful career" which was ended as a result of raising concerns about patient safety and misconduct.

He says: "I continue to be blacklisted by the NHS despite a high-achieving career prior to raising concerns about patient safety."

In response to the letter, a department of health spokesperson, said: "We want to make the NHS the safest health system in the world and creating an open and honest culture where patients and staff are listened to is vital to improving care.

"This government has made important changes to protect whistle-blowers by outlawing gagging clauses in contracts and introducing new laws in this parliament to protect those who speak up."

The department says every NHS manager and leader is to have training on how to raise concerns.

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