• MP for Birkenhead, Frank Field has claimed a bullying culture still persists at Wirral University Teaching Hospital FT, a year and a half after it was rocked by a major scandal
  • The Parliamentarian claims to have received recent reports of bullying from staff at the trust’s Arrowe Park Hospital
  • He met with former health minister Stephen Hammond who asked DHSC officials to monitor developments at the trust

A bullying culture still “persists” at Wirral University Teaching Hospital FT 18 months after a major governance scandal was exposed, a senior Parliamentarian has told health ministers.

Birkenhead MP Frank Field, met with former health minister Stephen Hammond after he claimed to have received recent reports from staff at Arrowe Park Hospital.

In an email to Shelley Watson, a former staff member at the trust who raised allegations of bullying in March this year, Mr Field, who is an independent MP after quitting Labour, said: “Following the recent reports of bullying that I received, including the one you submitted to me, I requested a meeting with the minister for health. That meeting took place yesterday [1 July].

“I put to him my concerns about the culture of bullying that persists at Arrowe Park and he took these concerns very seriously. He asked one of his officials at the meeting to look closely at recent developments within the hospital, and to report back regularly on progress.”

Mr Field confirmed the meeting had taken place when asked by HSJ but declined to comment any further on how many allegations of bullying he had received.

The news comes a year and a half after HSJ first exposed a major bullying scandal at the trust, which led to the trust’s former chair and chief executive resigning and NHS Improvement commissioning an independent review.

That independent review, published in March last year, found “deep systemic cultural issues” within the trust.

Following the review, the trust appointed one of the executives who originally blew the whistle, Janelle Holmes, as its new chief executive.

In a report, published earlier this year, the Care Quality Commission said improvements had been made to the culture of the trust’s emergency department but the regulator warned of ”persistent challenging working conditions and a lack of communication with the senior team”.

In April this year, the Liverpool Echo reported allegations from two former staff members of a continuing poor culture at the trust.

One of those staff members was Ms Shelley Watson, who raised allegations of bullying against a senior director directly to Ms Holmes and the trust’s HR director, before she left the trust in March this year. 

Ms Watson has also raised her concerns with NHS Improvement and the CQC.

The trust told HSJ it has undertaken a piece of engagement work with more than 2,500 staff this year to develop “new organisational values and behaviours.”

Updated 10am, 8 August to correct the record that Mr Field met with former health minister Stephen Hammond, not health secretary Matt Hancock as previously reported.

Frank Field vs Wirral University Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust

MP Frank Field has been publicly vocal in his criticisms of the trust over the last six months.

Following the trust’s CQC inspection report in May, Mr Field wrote to the health secretary, over his concerns about the quality of emergency services at WUTH.

The trust told HSJ Mr Field visited the trust’s A&E in July, after staff sent a letter to him defending its services.

The MP has also written to the trust’s chief executive in May, over concerns he had regarding bullying accusations at the trust.

According to reports from the Wirral globe, the trust’s chief executive sent an email to staff saying the trust wanted to create an environment where staff feel supported to speak up and urged staff to raise concerns if they had them.