Hidden justice in the NHS: Profile of Claire McLaughlan – a doctors’ career terminator and rehabilitator

Claire McLaughlan. Pic credit: Linked In

The National Health Service has a largely hidden system of justice when a health trust is involved in a dispute with a doctor. It holds internal inquiries and appeals in private to decide whether a doctor should be dismissed.

The people who chair and sit on the inquiry are drawn from a list that a health trust can choose. The same people are also chosen and paid by trusts to build up a case against a doctor. The people who get onto the list normally have had a career in the NHS but are now running their private businesses in Claire McLaughlan’s case offering rehabilitation to doctors who have fallen foul of their own health trust.

I have chosen Claire McLaughlan as an example because she has been and is involved in three high profile cases where doctors have challenged decisions by health trusts to dismiss them. They are Dr Raj Mattu, who won a spectacular £1.2 million settlement after being unfairly dismissed for warning about patient safety in a cardiology department; Dr Chris Day, who is still fighting his dismissal for warning about patient safety at an intensive care unit at Woolwich Hospital, and as readers of this blog will be familiar, Dr Usha Prasad, a consultant cardiologist at the Epsom and St Helier University Health Trust, who is currently awaiting an internal inquiry appeal over her dismissal from the trust.

I did offer Claire McLaughlan an opportunity to comment but have received no reply to my request.

From Royal Navy nurse to clinical assessment services

Claire McLaughan’s nursing career started in the Royal Navy before she became Head of Fitness to Practise at the Nursing and Midwifery Council and then moved to the now renamed National Clinical Assessment Service (NCAS) becoming, an Associate Director. There she developed the NCAS Back on Track Services for doctors, dentists and pharmacists between 2008 and 2014. 

She also did obtain a law degree and was called to the Bar but as far as I could ascertain never practised as a barrister despite calling herself a non practising barrister. Certainly the Law Society do not appear to have any records of her working for chambers.

She left NCAS and set up her own business which offers a huge list of services which are listed on her Linked In page. It begins “Claire provides bespoke, holistic services and access to resources relating to performance management, revalidation, remediation, reskilling and rehabilitation for health professionals and the organisations they work in.”

Her company CC McLaughlin Services ( website here) which appears to be run according to the website from their home in Stockbridge, Hampshire, ( though it has a registered office in Winchester), which they purchased according to the land registry for £600,000 in 2010.

The latest Companies House accounts for the firm show that she and her husband, fellow director, Charlie ,have a thriving business. Latest company returns show it made a profit of £137,000. Both directors pay themselves in dividends rather than salaries which is more tax efficient.

While working in the private sector she holds a number of NHS posts including Chair for NHS England’s Performers List Decision making panels( they decide the internal inquiries) She is also an Invited Review panellist for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and an appointed lay member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Given this stellar series of appointments it is rather surprising that in two cases she has been subject to criticism- and in one case had to apologise.

The first case involved Raj Mattu, a cardiologist with the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust. He was dismissed after he warned of serious patient safety problems at Walsgrave Hospital. He lost his court battle but won an employment tribunal and was awarded over £1m damages in 2016.( see here).

Claire McLoughlan, who appeared for the trust, was criticised by employment judge Pauline Hughes for an important omission in her evidence. The extract in her judgement says:

Her second case was highlighted by Chris Day. She was paid by Greenwich and Lewisham NHS Trust to investigate his claims of patient safety concerns at and was working with M J Rhoddis Associates. They were paid over £40,000 for the work.

Dr Chris Day; Pic credit: Twitter

In a recent letter to the Care Quality Commission Mr Day said that he came to a meeting with them to explain the circumstances of his concerns – only to find afterwards that the record of what happened had been completely altered, important points were left out, his views were distorted and comments attributed to him which he never said.

He got an apology from Mrs Mclaughlan and the record was altered.

Now at the moment Mrs McLaughlan is about to issue her verdict as chair of an internal inquiry on the fate of Dr Usha Prasad, who has already been exonerated by the GMC, so there can no question of patient safety being at risk. There is the question why this appeal is being heard while we still have a pandemic and St Helier hospital has been hit badly by it. It goes against NHS guidance to have it now and Mrs Mclaughlan as chair of the NHS England Performers List should know. Obviously she has not followed NHS guidance in this instance.

Is it a chumocracy?

These internal NHS hearing are areas where journalists rarely investigate but to my mind raise a lot of questions which need answering. Is this rather closed system open to chumocracy? How curious that people can glide between the public and private sector running a successful business on the proceeds? How independent are these people if they are paid by the trust which obviously in all three cases wants to get rid of the doctor concerned?

And most importantly whatever findings come out – they can ruin the professional careers of doctors – and should that be left to a secretive system to decide their fate? And why is all this taxpayers’ money going on these long and drawn out proceedings which are money making troughs for all the lawyers concerned?

6 thoughts on “Hidden justice in the NHS: Profile of Claire McLaughlan – a doctors’ career terminator and rehabilitator

  1. Yet another case of NHS inadequacy and the closed environment that allows hard working NHS staff to be dismissed at whim of management.
    Management needs total reform and should be nominated by the staff in the trust rather than parachuted into their highly paid jobs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How curious that people can glide between the public and private sector running a successful business on the proceeds? How independent are these people if they are paid by the trust which obviously in all three cases wants to get rid of the doctor concerned?
    This is the way government business is conducted David, you have to keep up with the times. My observation as a user of the NHS is that the NHS is no longer the monolithic structure portrayed by its right wing critics, in fact it as become more byzantine and certainly there are now organisations providing service to NHS patients that lead you into the independent sector.
    Many people now use online services and there seems a wide choice Patient Access, EMIS etc a quick look by postcode show fifteen of these Online services have the same postcode and some the same company secretary.

    When visiting the doctor, you may discover that although you may see the NHS logo is your surgery run by a doctor or the NHS? In many cases they are not , on your surgery website you have a Logo INTRAHEALTH and NHS under the NHS banner you have the words providing NHS Services. But if you read left to right it says Intrahealth (large gap) providing NHS Services.
    IntraHealth have 20 years experience of providing high quality NHS Primary Care Services. We also operate a number of NHS Community Pharmacy Services and a range of NHS Community Services including anticoagulation (warfarin), immunisation / vaccination services and medicines management.
    One may at first glance think Intrahealth is an arm of the NHS, it is fact a company registered at Companies House, objectives of the company ” General medical practice activities”. So once again, we find that even at the lowest level, we see the NHS resemble a byzantine model than the Stalinist one portrayed by IDS & Co.
    Now, we have moved on one step further allowing the GP practice to be in the hands of private enterprise as allowed it to tap into other sectors, including Health and Fitness “Well Being” a mission statement of a company registered at Companies House, ” We share a desire to improve the health and well being of people whose lifestyle negatively affects their health and happiness. We strive to make a difference where it is needed most by enabling healthy behaviour change”.
    So if a surgery wants to offload a patient, why not use these services instead of NHS services, which is exactly what Intrahealth as done to some of its patients and at no cost to themselves. So one questions before certain sectors of the NHS disappear into the private sector like Dentistry and Opticians.
    So, this is probably a snapshot of the modern day NHS, and such a model which will become more complex, more bewildering, and byzantine even at the lowest level of care leaves one question unanswered, not the usual the NHS cannot be trusted in the hands of the Tory Party, as that no longer applies as one must ask the question who runs the NHS and taking from its online services to its GP practices it does not seem to be the NHS is running it anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There are many examples of safety concerns raised by patients being ignored by NHS managers. Check out the three reports issued by Baroness Cumberlege, Dr. Bill Kirkup and Donna Ockenden in the latter half of 2020 and note the scathing comments by Dr. Kirkup. I ask what happens to the brave few, inside the NHS, who put their heads above the parapet to raise safety concerns and find themselves in jeopardy. Are they able to get a job in a different Trust or is there some sort of ‘blacklisting’ that goes on between Trusts? If so why is their expensive training and expertise left to wither on the vine.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The decision making behind this system is nothing short of farcical. Extremely poor management skills at the NHS and a total overhaul is needed. It’s unacceptable that the careers of these highly valuable doctors are being put on the line and judged by a clueless agenda.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Justice for Doctors

  6. well said David! i’m just very worried that they’ll see you as an enemy now and have you ‘sectioned’, steal everything you have, destroy your brain……like so many others! no trial or fabrication of evidence required….why will nobody write about that?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.