West Suffolk Hospital answers allegations of bullying
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been drawn into a row about alleged bullying at West Suffolk Hospital over whistleblowing.
A national newspaper published a report today detailing complaints by doctors of alleged harassment over efforts by the hospital’s trust to identify a whistleblower following the death of a patient, which included requests for handwriting and fingerprint samples.
The Guardian said that Mr Hancock was told about the issue but failed to respond to the concerns.
Mr Hancock has confirmed to the Journal's sister title Bury Free Press he was contacted about the issue and received assurances from the NHS that the trust handled the matter ‘entirely appropriately’.
The hospital opened a serious incident investigation into the care of a patient who died while in its care.
The incident was declared investigated and then there was an information breach involving confidential patient information.
As a result, the trust opened a second serious incident investigation with staff asked to provide handwriting and fingerprint samples to rule themselves out as the culprits.
Following concerns from staff, the trust’s serious incident investigation process was shared with the national head of whistleblowing for the NHS, who supported the trust’s approach. The investigation process was also shared with the Care Quality Commission.
The trust’s chair and chief executive met with the Medical Staff Committee to discuss concerns.
A West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: “Any allegations of bullying are taken extremely seriously and are thoroughly and urgently investigated, which is one of the reasons why we are among the top five NHS trusts in the country for having engaged, happy, and empowered staff.
“We acknowledge that this has been a difficult and stressful experience for the staff involved, and for that we are sorry and will continue to reflect on this as an organisation. We shared our serious incident investigation process with the CQC, and the NHS national head of whistleblowing who backed our approach.”
Mr Hancock echoed the trust’s response and said that on being contacted about the issue, he got in touch with the hospital.