An independent investigation into the handling of whistleblowing concerns at a West Midlands trust, commissioned by the NHS Trust Development Authority, is expected to report soon, HSJ has learned.
The TDA has confirmed to HSJ that independent company Verita was asked last year to examine a “complex whistleblowing” case at Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust involving allegations of covering up high mortality rates.
HSJ has learned the inquiry is finalising its conclusions ahead of the report being published “very shortly”.
The investigation is believed to be looking into how trust chief executive David Loughton and the organisation responded to concerns raised by its head of clinical coding and data quality, Sandra Haynes-Kirkbright.
An email from TDA chief executive David Flory to a member of the public earlier this month, seen by HSJ, said Verita was in “the final stages of their review and I expect the report to be published very shortly”.
In 2013 Ms Haynes-Kirkbright, who had previously worked at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, publicly claimed she had been employed by Royal Wolverhampton to “fiddle” their mortality statistics, which in 2011-12 were among the highest in the country.
She told the Daily Mail that “every rule in the book” was broken to try to improve the trust’s mortality rates, and she was suspended from her post after refusing to take part in the alleged “cover up”.
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The trust suspended her in 2012 after allegations were made against her by 19 colleagues accusing her of bullying, harassment, persistent swearing and unprofessional behaviour.
An TDA spokeswoman said: “An independent investigation was commissioned last year for Verita to investigate a complex whistleblowing case at Royal Wolverhampton and ensure a robust and thorough approach. The review is still in progress and the findings will be published when this work has fully concluded.”
She added: “The review was… to investigate the issues around Ms Haynes-Kirkbright and the handling of the whistleblowing concerns she raised.”
A spokesman for Royal Wolverhampton said: “The trust can confirm that an investigation has been undertaken by an independent organisation. We now await the findings of the report before making any further comment.”
Mr Loughton has previously been linked with the high profile case of whistleblower Raj Mattu, who raised concerns over patient deaths at University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire Trust in 2001 where Mr Loughton was chief executive at the time.
Mr Loughton was heavily criticised by an employment tribunal last year, which described him as an “accomplished politician” and said it did not accept his evidence “on certain points was truthful”. The tribunal described him as “very dismissive of anything which was not in accordance with his own world view”.
Dr Mattu was later suspended for eight years on full pay and won an employment tribunal last year. A final remedy hearing is due to start in April and the heart specialist could receive a substantial payout.
- David Flory
- NHS Coventry and Rugby CCG
- NHS Trust Development Authority
- NHS Wolverhampton CCG
- Patient safety
- Specialist care
- THE ROYAL WOLVERHAMPTON HOSPITAL NHS TRUST
- THE ROYAL WOLVERHAMPTON HOSPITALS NHS TRUST
- UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS COVENTRY AND WARWICKSHIRE NHS TRUST
- West Midlands
- West Midlands
- Yorkshire and the Humber