The director of forensic services at the mental health trust that runs Broadmoor Hospital is leaving his post after allegations he sent anonymous letters to other members of staff.
Andy Weir is leaving his post as director of specialist and forensic services at West London Mental Health Trust despite a police investigation and an investigation begun by the trust finding “no evidence” to support the allegations, according to an internal trust document seen by HSJ.
The trust provides mental health services across three London boroughs and also runs Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire.
The organisation’s “communications handling plan” on Mr Weir’s departure, obtained by HSJ, states: “A settlement has been reached [in the week commencing] 17 March with Andy Weir regarding the terms of his leaving the trust. Andy has been offered and accepted employment with another NHS trust.”
According to the document (attached, right), trust chief executive Steve Shrubb was due to break the news to staff in the specialist and forensic services unit yesterday, saying: “I would like to confirm that following both a police investigation and an internal investigation, there was no evidence found to support the allegation that Andy was involved in writing anonymous letters, and I am firmly of the view that he did not.”
The document shows the trust’s senior management anticipate some staff in the unit would be concerned Mr Weir had been made “a scapegoat”.
It suggests serious conflict between senior employees at the trust.
It states: “Views are divided amongst senior staff within the specialist and forensic services clinical services unit and handling of communications must reflect the sensitivities of this news.
“Those who have been particularly supportive of Andy will no doubt want more details about Andy’s leaving and what this means for the trust, [the clinical service unit] and for them personally.”
A list of pre-prepared answers for senior managers fielding staff questions about the news – headed LINES TO TAKE ONLY IF ASKED – says that employees asking if Mr Weir had been scapegoated should be told: “Whenever there are genuine concerns raised about a member of staff the trust is obliged to take them seriously and investigate if necessary…
“We have carefully considered the concerns raised by members of staff but were not able to complete the investigation we undertook before Andy found a new role at another trust.”
The tone of the response is at odds with the document’s proposed responses to media questions. It suggests that media asking about the outcome of the investigation should be told: “Findings from the investigation are being shared with a number of key individuals within the organisation and lessons learnt through this investigation have been used to inform elements of the staff engagement work we are doing with staff at the trust.”
Mr Weir is due to leave at the end of March.
It is not clear exactly when he was suspended but trust board meeting minutes show that from April 2013 onwards an acting director of specialist and forensic services attended board meetings and he stopped attending or sending apologies.
The trust has seen significant change since Mr Shrubb took over as chief executive of the trust in April 2012 with a mission to improve the culture at the organisation, which had scored poorly in successive staff surveys.
The “communications handling plan” obtained by HSJ said: “As part of the terms of settlement it was agreed that Andy and the trust would agree how his leaving should be communicated with members of staff and stakeholders.
“This plan sets out how it will be communicated to staff who raised concerns about AW’s leadership with the CEO and executive team, the specialist and forensic services SMT, the [clinical service unit] staff and members of staff across the trust.”
The document said there were 10 complainants who raised concerns about Mr Weir.
It said Mr Shrubb would “meet with the senior leadership of the unit and it is important that they receive the clear message that Andy’s departure was mutually agreed, he wants to further his career elsewhere and the trust wants to understand what support they require to move beyond what has been a difficult episode for everyone involved.”
Mr Weir had worked at the trust since 2005.
HSJ tried to reach Mr Weir for comment through West London Mental Health Trust and his new employer Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust but had received no reply at time of publication.