Dr Chris Day, the whistleblower junior doctor, has told the tribunal that the eight year battle with the trust and Health Education England, had “destroyed my medical career” and had been at a ” huge cost to me and my family.”
In a long and detailed witness statement to the tribunal he laid out the effect of the trust’s actions ever since he had made his protected disclosures in 2013 and 2014 about staff shortages and serious threats to patient safety at the intensive care unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich.
He said: “The respondents’ actions over the last 8 years have destroyed my medical career.
“Throughout this litigation, I have worked ad hoc shifts as a locum junior doctor in Emergency Medicine. This often, if not always, involves a 10 hour shift starting early afternoon and ending at midnight. It is these times in which locum cover is needed.
“Had I progressed on my career path with the Second Respondent, I would have been a hospital consultant by 2019. My current arrangement offers me no career path, job security or employment rights. For example, when working during the pandemic in A&E, I caught Covid-19 and, as I fully accept, I had no right to sick pay from either my locum agency or the NHS for the time that I could not work.”
This case is about preventing disclosures being understood by the public
“This present case is therefore not about justice for me and my family for the loss of my career. It is about attempts to undermine my reputation by preventing the disclosures I had raised being understood by the public, press and MPs.
“The actions of the Respondents in their reactions to the issues that I had raised had meant the destruction of my career; and then for them to further undermine my professional and personal reputation to such an extent, could make it likely that many will not listen to a word I say about anything ever again.”
He concluded: “This Tribunal will be fully aware of what happens time after time to claimants that bring
whistleblowing cases against senior and established interests. To some extent this Tribunal may also be aware of the speak up culture in the NHS. The toxic speak up culture in the NHS has been documented in scandal after scandal with the latest being the maternity scandal at Shrewsbury and Telford. This Tribunal will therefore be more than able to understand the pressure that me and my family have been under over the last 8 years. I hope it is clear from what I have set out, that I have raised serious issues that deserve proper consideration.”
His evidence covered the history of his case from 2013 covering serial misrepresentation of his disclosures at the intensive care unit at Woolwich Hospital, a bitter dispute over cost threats against him and his solicitors by the trust and Health Education England, which led him to settle the case to protect his home and family and the aftermath including a hostile press release issued by the trust and letters sent to 18 MPs and local stakeholders putting their case. He has had two days of robust cross examination by Dan Tatton Brown, the barrister acting for the trust, which has gone into every detail of his case and demanded straight ” yes or no ” answers to complicated points. These included the legal procedures surrounding the move to impose and then withdraw cost threats against him and his solicitors which was later denied had ever happened by the trust.
His witness statement points out that it took six years from 2013 for the trust and Health Education England, who are no longer a party to the case, to recognise that his disclosures as a whistleblowing issue.
Trust misrepresented findings on patient safety
He also found misrepresentations by the trust over a visit by the people from HEE and by commissioning an external investigation by Roddis Associates, which ignored two deaths at the ICU, claimed staffing was adequate and wrongly said a consultant became immediately available when he wanted one. These issues have been dealt with in earlier evidence from two anaesthetists.
He says: “The Respondent has chosen to represent the serious content of my protected disclosures as a one-off situation outside of the ICU about junior doctor cover of medical wards. Such an occurrence, although not trivial, is all too common in the NHS.
“It is clearly not the main thrust of my protected disclosures. The fact the Respondent has wholly misrepresented to the press and MPs my disclosures as not being about the Intensive Care Unit/critical care, but being limited to junior doctor cover on the medical wards paints a picture that my protected disclosures were making a fuss about nothing.”
“It seems to me that this is a clear attempt to smear me; to make me out to have been a vexatious Claimant with a hopeless case that I chose to freely withdraw; and to diminish my standing in the eyes of those who supported me, including the MPs and journalists that were engaged with the issues that I had raised.”
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If Dr Day HAD been making things up or making a fuss about nothing, then it might be appropriate to destroy his medical career, (but still not to threaten his liveihood or his family’s security!), but he was NOT.
Dr Day was acting throughout for the benefit of patients (who’s safety was risked by inadequate staffing levels), and fully in accordance with the duty imposed upon him by the GMC and by NHS regulations to raise safety issues in the hospital concerned, and indeed also subsequently for colleagues at all levels within NHS employ who are required to bring safety concerns to public attention when ignored by line managers, but vilified for doing so or cowed into just running away by those same bullying managers and seniors, who appear to care less about patient safety or GMC rules than about their own egos.
A good doctor that has made genuine positive contributions to the profession. It’s great the BMA are supporting him with leeway, it’s in the public interest