NHS chief ‘used aggressive behaviour to silence whistleblowers’

Head of nursing ordered staff to ‘cover up’ for dyspraxic surgeon and alter outcomes of investigations, tribunal hears

An NHS chief silenced whistleblowers and told colleagues to conceal vital information – including ordering them to ‘cover up’ for a surgeon who operated on the wrong finger on a patient’s hand – a tribunal has heard.

Rachel Sansbury, head of nursing for the surgical division at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, reportedly ordered staff to ‘not open that can of worms’ and keep their ‘mouths shut about any issues’ because she feared her department would lose its gold standard, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) heard yesterday (25 July).

Sansbury is said to have told a member of staff during a meeting in 2014 that revealing that a surgeon had been diagnosed with dyspraxia, and ‘did not know his left from his right’, could stop him operating and lead to longer waiting lists for surgery. The surgeon had made an incision in the wrong finger while operating on a patient.

Sansbury faces six charges, two of which relate to an October 2012 meeting, held to determine whether employee Sarah Fay wanted to proceed with bullying allegations she had made against another colleague. Sansbury allegedly berated Fay and clinical governance manager Gail Gardiner for the impact that raising such concerns was having on the governance team.

Michael Collis, representing the NMC, told the tribunal: “Sansbury pointed out that [the whistleblowing] was being noticed within the department and that they had worked hard to get a gold standard and it was being destroyed. Ms Fay alleges she was instructed by the registrant to change the conclusions of investigations to make them sound more favourable.”

Sansbury is also accused of acting ‘aggressively’ when concerns were raised. Gardiner said she was on the receiving end when she expressed concerns about investigations into failings being ‘closed off’, including an incident where an elderly patient was ‘put to sleep’ by accident.

Collis argued that Sansbury’s fitness to practise was impaired as a result of the remarks.

“The six charges relate to comments allegedly made to three separate individuals working in the clinical governance team for whom the registrant was the line manager,” he said. “It is the NMC’s case that all these incidents were dishonest in the fact that they were efforts by the registrant to encourage her colleagues to conceal or misrepresent information that may have been damaging to the clinical governance team or the surgical team as a whole.”

Sansbury denies all charges and the hearing continues.

Story via – http://www.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2016/07/26/nhs-chief-used-aggressive-behaviour-to-silence-whistleblowers.aspx

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