Great Ormond Street Hospital – no confidence in CEO

I missed this on the news – but caught it on the BBC website this morning.

Over 40 consultants have apparently signed and handed over a letter of no confidence in the CEO and senior management of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Ever since I got involved with the excellent child paediatrician, Kim Holt, who tried to raise concerns over the management and processes in Haringey’s child protection health team (which was managed by Great Ormond Street and included the doctor who failed to recognise Baby Peter’s condition) and who has been on ‘special leave’ ever since for her trouble – I have wondered whether the management would ever be brought to account.

I have been working on Kim Holt’s case now for three years.

Kim is supported by thousands of her colleagues who recently handed in a petition to the Secretary of State for Health.

I succeeded in getting an ‘independent’ investigation by NHS London into her case a while back – which reported about six months ago.

Ms Holt is a senior child paediatrician with an unblemished and exemplary record (as stated in the investigation by NHS London report) but she has been blocked from returning to her post for three years now – since she raised concerns about the management of child protection in the Haringey health team. The report recommended mediation as a route back to work.

However the Trust needs to be a party to the mediation in order for the dispute to be resolved.

Given that the Trust is the organisation against whom Ms Holt was a whistle blower, the Strategic Health Authority should ideally be commissioning the mediation process. Otherwise this is tantamount to handing back to the organisation that Ms Holt has made allegations about, the full responsibility for determining her future.

So – to find today – that over 40 consultants have taken such a serious step as signing a letter of no confidence in the CEO Jane Collins – would seem to back up everything that Kim Holt has experienced in trying to get her job back!

Great Ormond Street Hospital – did they hear what I was saying?

I finally got to meet the Chair (Baroness Blackstone), the CEO (Jane Collins) and several non-executive members of the Board of Great Ormond Street yesterday.

I was there on two counts. The first was to ask why Kim Holt, the whistle-blowing, senior paediatrician who raised concerns over child protection in Haringey and was not listened to, had not begun to be re-instated having been on ‘special leave’ for two years despite agreement to so do. The second thrust of my meeting was about issues around bullying and unhappiness amongst medical staff and what had been done to address those issues.

I am not going to blog the detail today – but I did take notes. Suffice to say I tried to warn them but when I walked out – I really wondered whether they were able to hear what I told them.

Kim Holt's character and professional witnesses intimidated?

Since the publication of the report last week  into Kim Holt’s (one of the Senior Consultant Paediatricians in the Haringey Child Protection team) allegations of bullying by management – which have seen her on ‘special leave’ for two years – I hear tell of what appears to be intimidation, or at very least, harassment.

Many professionals who work in the various departments associated with child protection – health, children’s services, etc. – gave witness statements to the report’s authors supporting Kim – stating how valuable her work was, what an excellent professional she was and what an advocate of good practise in child health care etc etc etc. In fact, the report itself praises her and states there is no criticism of her professionalism whatsoever. What the report doesn’t do however is investigate the bullying or the management’s ignoring of warnings about danger to the children it is meant to be protecting.

These witnesses were (and still are) pretty scared of speaking up and coming forward. I know – I spoke to several during the course of Kim’s case and they all spoke to me on the basis that I would not name them. I think this speaks volumes for the case that Kim makes of management bullying and the very serious outcomes that a bullying and silencing management begets – in that warnings are ignored and people are too scared to go public.

Kim was one of the four consultants who signed a letter to the management of Great Ormond Street Child Protection team saying that children were in danger because of a variety of things not being done properly. The letter also stated that the consultants were concerned because management was ignoring their warnings.

Now – post publication of the report – it would seem that those witnesses who were promised anonymity may find themselves being approached by their management and asked if they have given evidence on Kim’s behalf. News has reached me – as they say.

I would say this is a classic example of bullying. Now who is it who could possibly want to know who may have supported Kim against the establishment?

Great Ormond Street and Kim Holt

A report, published today by NHS London, investigating the allegations of Kim Holt is the result of the investigation that I got for Kim to try and get justice for her (see previous post). But it wasn’t only justice for Kim – it was also about trying to make sure that the management of the child protection health team came under the same spotlight that the sacked managers in Haringey Children’s Service had come under for their part in the Baby Peter tragedy.

The failings that Kim (with three other senior consultant paediatricians) had alerted Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) management to were so serious, that when they were ignored by management, they had to resort to signing a letter jointly to Dr David Elliman and Jane Elias – the management team at GOSH. The letter was quite explicit and expressed the doctors’ concerns and also expressed their anger that those concerns were being ignored and their view that this put vulnerable children at risk.

The report is very critical of Great Ormond Street (GOSH) and the senior managers – but where is the resultant action? As I said in my last post – if there is no consequence to poor management, if no jobs are lost – then what is going to make senior managers take notice next doctors tell them children are in danger. Nothing!

Baby Peter and beyond – Great Ormond Street in the dock

Kim Holt has finally broken cover over the health team’s part in the Baby Peter tragedy with an interview in the Sunday Telegraph with Andrew Gilligan.

Who is Kim? She is (or rather was) a senior paediatric consultant in Haringey’s child protection health team.

Kim first came to me (over a year ago), terrified to talk to me, as she had been gagged – forbidden to talk to anyone. However, because I was her MP, she and I believed that must give her cover as it couldn’t be the case that a citizen loses their right to talk to their MP.

Kim was desperately worried that children in Haringey were at risk because none of the senior managers at Great Ormond Street were taking proper notice of the concerns she and three other senior consultant paediatricians had raised about the dreadful way things were being handled by management in charge of the child protection health team. The four consultants were so worried that they took the unusual step of jointly signing a letter enumerating their concerns and stating that they believed management were ignoring them. This was exposed in the Evening Standard recently also by Gilligan – with a scanned version of the letter for all to see.

In fact, when Kim tried to raise these issues and became vocal about them – guess what – the establishment turned on her. She was bullied by management – and worse – the situation was ignored. She eventually found herself on ‘special leave’ where she has been for two years – kept away from work by management at taxpayers’ expense to try and stop her exposing what had been going on.

Worse than that – additional to keeping her from working (and she a senior consultant paediatrician with an impeccable track record of 25 years of dedicated service) they tried to buy her silence. They offered her £120,000 if she would sign a statement saying all her concerns had been addressed.

But Kim wouldn’t be bought off. Kim’s real and genuine concern is and always has been the well-being of the most vulnerable of children. That is why over the year or so since she first came to me – I have completely and totally supported Kim and believed that she is the victim of bad management, bullying and a desire by those in charge to not rock the eminent boat of Great Ormond Street.

So – when Kim first came to see me to tell me about the bullying – I went to see Richard Sumray, Chair of Haringey Primary Care Trust (PCT) to talk to him privately about this situation. The child protection task had been handed over from Haringey PCT to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). The existing senior manager in charge had been transferred across from Haringey PCT to GOSH. It was now a matter for GOSH. That is what he said – but he also said he would look into it.

Then the Baby Peter trial concluded and all hell let loose. Haringey Council was rightly first in line, as the lead agency and the most culpable, and got all the attention. But knowing a little at that time about the health team and wondering why there was a locum in place – the locum who failed to recognise Peter’s broken back and ribs – I started asking questions.

I raised it in Parliament and if you look back in Hansard you will see me raise the issue of why out of four senior paediatric consultants, two had resigned, one was on sick leave and one on special leave. (You will also read that our health spokesperson Norman Lamb raised it too). I was, at that point, still bound to keep Kim’s confidence but was desperately trying to get the health team management looked at.

Kim was still not working and in my view was being kept from working because of her whistle-blowing. At this point, I ‘phoned Ed Balls office and told them of the dreadful treatment of Kim Holt and said if they didn’t do something at some point this would all blow up and with the reputation of the world’s foremost children’s hospital at stake – they needed to act.

I was very pleased that I was called shortly after this by the Chief Nurse from London Strategic Health Authority who I met with and who undertook to carry out a private investigation of the issues around Kim’s bullying and exclusion.

That investigation reports this coming week. Kim gave an interview to the Sunday Telegraph – finally – because she believes the report leaves out the important issues. She is gagged from talking about what is in the report. I have not seen it – but have met with its author and the NHS chief nurse who briefed me on their view of the content.

Now we wait to see the report. But if it doesn’t get Kim back to work, it doesn’t dismiss any managers and it doesn’t tackle the bullying culture – then it will all have been for nought.