Chris Day: Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust and Health Education England “destroyed my medical career”, tribunal told

Dr Chris Day

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.”

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich By Paul W – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79830700

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.”

Please donate to Westminster Confidential to allow me to continue my reporting.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

£5.00
£10.00
£20.00
£3.00
£9.00
£60.00
£3.00
£9.00
£60.00

Or enter a custom amount

£

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Please donate to Westminster Confidential

£10.00

Consultant anaesthetist links two patient deaths to unsafe staffing at Woolwich Hospital Intensive Care Unit – Chris Day tribunal hearing

Dr Sebastian Hormaeche Pic credit: Linked In

” Troubling” trust commissioned report ignoring patient deaths

A second consultant anaesthetist was highly critical of safety standards at Woolwich Hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in 2013 and 2014 linking the lack of night time trained doctors working there to the deaths of two patients.

Dr Sebastian Hormaeche, an elected member of the British Medical Association Council, provided evidence to the tribunal on expected staffing levels and qualifications of doctors working at the ICU.

His evidence followed a devastating critique last week by Dr Megan Smith on the staffing levels at the ICU run by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust.

She had told the hearing : “You would not find an anaesthetist or ICU doctor in the country who would accept those ratios. There was a clear and present danger to patient safety – no question about that.”

Dr Hormaeche said that the trust did not follow national standards for doc to patient ratios there but went on to criticise the lack of supervised training for doctors handling emergencies and the way the trust’ called external investigators who presented a false picture of what was happening there. He said:

“The Core Standards state that exceeding this staffing ratio is deleterious to patient care. The ICU cares for the sickest patients in the hospital requiring the most intense level of care and attention and when staffing levels are stretched patients may be exposed to higher degree of risk of harm. This is also impacted by the number and experience of trainees- doctors below the consultant grade, as well as the turnover of patients and the case-mix.”

“Airway skills- the skills required to secure and maintain the airway (intubation) in critically ill patients- are the core element of the anaesthetist’s training and are their fundamental skillset. The sickest ICU patients (Level 3 patients) are those requiring ventilatory support in the form of a breathing tube being inserted into the airway (trachea, or windpipe) in order to help maintain their life support. Situations requiring airway intervention in the ICU typically require the presence of a practitioner with advanced airway skills.

Dr Chris Day

“This is important because an emergency involving an airway issue can be immediately life-threatening, therefore it is a requirement that there be immediate access to a practitioner with advanced airway skills, and in practice this is usually provided by the resident anaesthetists. It should be noted that novice anaesthetists who have not yet completed their lnitial Assessment of Competency do not yet possess advanced airway skills”.

.”I have seen evidence that on 15 October 2014, Health Education England carried out a quality visit at the Trust which recorded concerns from other junior doctors about staff patient ratios and the lack of ready availability of airway support. ln my view, the findings of this quality visit by the HEE and the ICU Core Standards are clearly relevant to Dr Day’s protected disclosures.”

He contrasted this with an external report by M J Roddis Associates, a clinical management consultancy, commissioned by the trust, which said: “The core standards say that the ICU resident / patient ration should not exceed 1:8. These ratios are therefore not absolute.”

Dr Hormaeche said: “…this doesn’t meet safety standards in terms of staffing levels either for doctor to patient numbers or for Dr Day’s level of training at that time. ln my experience this level of cover requires a senior trainee (a Registrar) with advanced airway skills and a higher level of ICU training to be resident in addition to an SHO, who is still undergoing their Core Training, as a minimum.”

M J Roddis Associates said: “Dr Day has immediate access of the resident anaesthetic registrar for airway management “while Dr Day. said the opposite and also warned of serious threat to very sick patients and added of ” I have observed a number of hypoxic cardiac arrests from tubes getting displaced. The unit’s self-extubation rate was high when I was there.”

This is an alarming paragraph – Dr Hormaeche

Dr Hormaeche said: ” This is an alarming paragraph for me to come across lt suggests an unsafe ICU
environment in terms of patient safety, by way of staffing levels and access to advanced airway skills. The term intubation refers to the insertion of a breathing tube, which is a crucial element of life support for the sickest ICU patients. The term extubation refers to the removal of a breathing tube from a patient’s airway.”

” …Self-extubation, however, refers to an unplanned and serious event where a breathing tube has unexpectedly become dislodged or displaced from the airway. This can become a life threatening event.”

He added: “The term hypoxic refers to a low level of oxygen circulating in the blood. This will be expected to occur if a breathing tube becomes accidentally displaced. Severe hypoxia can lead to cardiac arrest and death. To prevent this outcome, immediate access to advanced ainruay skills is essential.”

He then quotes from Dr Day’s evidence about two deaths that followed and linked to staff shortages

“On 7 November and 5 December 2013, two patient deaths occurred at night under the care of lntensive Care. These deaths involved two different non-anaesthetic trained doctors and were declared as Serious Untoward lncidents (‘SUl) and subject to Coroner inquests .The SUI’s involved just the kind of circumstances that I had been concerned to avoid when I raised concerns about patients safety in
August and September 2013.”

Neither deaths were investigated or mentioned by M J Roddis Associates in their report.

Deaths findings fully support Dr Day’s warning

Dr Hormaeche said: “”lt seems to me that the findings of both these Sls fully support Dr Day’s warning in his August 2013 protected disclosures about the training and experience of the grade of doctors used by the Trust to cover the night shift in the lntensive Care Unit under distant supervision.”

The December 5 case involved insertion of a chest drain which was incorrectly sited and pierced the liver. The patient died from haemorrhage according to the coroner.

Dr Hormaeche said: “I cannot understand why Roddis Associates were to exclude these two highly relevant SIs from their investigation.”

Please donate to Westminster Confidential to allow me to continue my reporting.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

£5.00
£10.00
£20.00
£3.00
£9.00
£60.00
£3.00
£9.00
£60.00

Or enter a custom amount

£

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

please donate to Westminster Confidential

£10.00

Consultant’s devastating critique of Woolwich Hospital’s intensive care staffing in Chris Day whistleblower tribunal hearing

Trust lose battle to ban consultant anaesthetists giving factual evidence

Dr Megan Smith, consultant anaesthetist and barrister. Pic credit: https://msmedicolegal.com/

A devastating exposure of the health and patient safety dangers at Woolwich Hospital’s intensive care unit in 2013 and 2014 was made by a highly experienced anaesthetist and lawyer on the second day of the tribunal case brought by Dr Chris Day against the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust.

At the opening of the hearing the NHS trust had tried to ban Dr Smith and another consultant from giving evidence to the judge on the grounds that the information was irrelevant, needlessly extending the hearing and a waste of taxpayer’s money. The trust itself has already spent nearly £1m on lawyers in fighting Dr Day’s whistleblowing claims of understaffing and risk to seriously ill patients at the hospital.

She told the hearing : “You would not find an anaesthetist or ICU doctor in the country who would accept those ratios. There was a clear and present danger to patient safety – no question about that.”

In her evidence she listed Dr Day’s concerns:

They were:

2.1.1. Doctor patient ratios were inappropriately high and a risk to patients at Woolwich ICU;
2.1.2. ICU trainees who were rostered to cover the ICU (as well as critically ill patients on the wards and in the Emergency Department (“ED’)) had insufficient clinical experience, training, and competence to fulfil a role of such responsibility which put patients at risk and compromised patient safety;
2.1.3. Senior medical supervision of these ICU trainees was inadequate and a risk to patients at Woolwich ICU which put patients at risk and compromised patient safety.

2.1.4. The Respondents’ managers failed to investigate these safety related matters adequately;
2.1.5. The Respondents’ managers provided false information about the claimants protected disclosures;
2.1.6. The Respondent’s managers provided false information to those investigating these safety related matters.

She went on to list the attempts Dr Day to alert people to the problems. They were:

Dr Roberts in a phone call and email on 29 August 2013

Dr Brooke in a meeting on 29 August 2013 and by email dated 2 September 2013;
Dr Harding, Assistant Medical Director for Professional Standards in an email forwarded on 3 September 2013;
Joanne Jarcett, the off-site duty manager, in a phone call and email on 10 January 2014 and a further email on 14 January 2014;
In addition, the Claimant informed Joanne Janett via email on 14 January 2014 that hospital managers were providing false information and were failing to investigate and deal with patient safety issues in the Respondent’s ICU;
Statements made by the Claimant on 3 June to the ARCP panel (which included a senior doctor from the Trust, Dr Harrison) about patient safety at Woolwich lCU, the hospital arrangements for 10 January 2014,
the events of that night and subsequently and attempts by Trust management to discredit him and present the issue as his competence rather than patient safety.”

Dr Chris Day

She then outlined national standards for intensive care units which were in force in 2013 and compared them to the provision at Woolwich Hospital. She said this meant “In general, [the Consultant/Patient ratio should not exceed a range between 1:8 – l:15 and the ICU resident Patient ratio should not exceed 1:8”

She said: “What he [Dr Day] was saying was that at all times when he was working as the resident night time ICU doctor he was expected to cover 18 ICU beds, assess new critically unwell patients on the wards in the hospital and in the ED, and review a list of ICU outlier patients on the wards who had been flagged as potentially requiring admission to ICU and therefore warranted close monitoring and regular review.”

Woolwich Hospital ICU was “prima facie unsafe”

She concluded: “The Respondent’s ICU was, prima facie, unsafe and (if more than a one-off incident) was something that was required to be rectified by the recruitment of more (and in some cases more experienced) junior doctors.”

She then examined the training and knowledge of junior doctors new to working in ICU’s and again found Woolwich Hospital wanting.

“When ICU trainees first begin their training, they are unlikely to possess many (or any) of the core lifesaving skills and competencies that a qualified higher level ICU trainee or consultant possesses. This means that it is completely inappropriate for these trainees to be left alone to manage the ICU out of hours until the department is satisfied that they possess the required levels of skill and competence.

On Dr Day she said: “Doctors with the level of experience that the Claimant had at the time in question
would not have (and would not be expected to have) anything other than basic airway and lifesaving skills. These can save a life as a temporising measure, but definitive airway access (tracheal intubation) and cardiovascular resuscitation have to be secured quickly or the patient will come to harm. These skills (which are routinely provided by the ICU team) are far more advanced and can only be gained by those new to ICU by being taught and fully supervised in performing them until they have achieved a prescribed level of competence (in 2013/2014 the criteria {or such competencies were set out by the Royal College of Anaesthetists” and other colleges.

She severely criticised the lack of supervision at the hospital and the turned to the hospital’s failure to investigate Dr Day’s concerns about patient safety.

Allegations would have been of grave concern

She said: ” The allegations raised by the Claimant would be of grave concern to any medical professional and any serious incident/governance/ risk manager. The primary concern would be for the safety of the patients in the ICU, particularly given subsequent (apparently avoidable) patient deaths. However, the institution ought also to have been extremely concerned about reputational damage and its standing
with those commissioning its services with whom it would have had legally enforceable contractual agreements. I would expect an immediate and thorough investigation to have been initiated.”

She concluded that the press statements by Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust at the time did not show Dr Day’s allegations had been properly investigated.

“it seems to me that the Respondent’s press statements and statements on its own website at best underplay the seriousness of what was occurring in the ICU and at worst were misleading in relation to the same.”

She said :The report that was commissioned in 2014 by the Respondent appears to accept and condone the running of the ICU in breach of expressly stated national standards that were put in place in order to ensure that ICU patients received excellent and, arguably more importantly, safe care. The conclusions of the 2014 report are, in my view, completely at odds with these evidence-based principles and are entirely inconsistent with the principles of the delivery of safe and excellent patient care.”

A second anaesthetist consultant will give evidence on Monday.

Please donate to Westminster Confidential to allow me to continue my reporting.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

£5.00
£10.00
£20.00
£3.00
£9.00
£60.00
£3.00
£9.00
£60.00

Or enter a custom amount

£

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

please donate to Westminster Confidential

£10.00

Jeremy Hunt and Sir Norman Lamb back whistleblower doctor’s epic patient safety struggle at a tribunal from Monday

Official portrait of Jeremy Hunt. Pic credit: Parliament.uk

Trust wants to ban two expert anaesthetists from giving evidence for Dr Mark Day

An epic nine year struggle between junior doctor Chris Day and Lewisham and Greenwich NHS trust over patient safety at an intensive care unit and accident and emergency department comes to a head at 15 day employment tribunal on Monday.

The story began in August 2013 when Chris Day, a junior doctor initially complained about inadequate staffing. It got worse in January 2014 when he was working overnight in the intensive care unit at Queen Elizabeth hospital in Woolwich when two locum doctors failed to show up. He had to cover other wards and A&E and reported his concerns to managers. He saw this as putting patients in such a sensitive area at serious risk.

extraordinary convoluted story

What followed is an extraordinary convoluted story of denial of the problem by the trust, misleading statements, poor investigations, threats of a huge legal bill which led him at one stage to settle the case only for it to be re-opened at a hearing before another High Court judge. There is a detailed blog by Dr Moosa Qureshi on CygnusReports.org which goes into forensic detail of the twists and turns of his case so I won’t repeat all the detail. I recommend you read his account. The costs of the protracted legal action to the NHS trust now amount to little short of £1million

A recent blog on my site looked at one aspect of the case, illustrating what appear to be underhand methods by a former dean at Health Education England to persuade Sir Norman Lamb, then a Liberal Democrat MP, not to pursue Dr Day’s case. Health Education England disowned his action at an employment tribunal and succeeded at being taken off as a party to Monday’s proceedings.

The issue will not go away next week as unusually Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, will give a statement to the tribunal, as a witness for Chris Day.

Sir Norman Lamb

Sir Norman Lamb, also a former health minister, will appear as a witness for Dr Day at the hearing so people are likely to hear a lot more about what actually happened.

Two highly distinguished consultant anaesthetists were also scheduled to give evidence on behalf of Dr Day. They are Dr Sebastian Hormaeche and Dr Megan Smith .

Dr Chris Day

The trust will try during the proceedings to ban them giving evidence.

The case is likely to look at the role of lawyers and also the role of M J Roddis, a clinical management consultancy in this case. They were employed by the trust to investigate this case and Dr Day claims they misrepresented his evidence, played down the problems, and omitted some damaging information about patient care.

The tribunal hearing will not be available on line as the court has decided in advance it will be an ” in person” hearing – even though three of the first five days will be held during a national rail strike.

Nor is it likely to be officially recorded. But Chris Day, who is represented by lawyers paid by the British Medical Association, has engaged a Ministry of Justice approved note taking service so there will be a full transcript of the proceedings.

I put some points to the trust and asked them for any comments they might wish to make but officials did not respond.

UPDATE: Since this post was published the employment tribunal has done a U-turn and decided to hold the hearing online which means it will be more accessible to the press and public It will not be held at Croydon, south London as there was not a judge available to preside over the 15 day hearing.

Please donate to my blog for more detailed and forensic coverage.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

£5.00
£10.00
£20.00
£3.00
£9.00
£60.00
£3.00
£9.00
£60.00

Or enter a custom amount

£

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

please donate to westminster Confidential

£10.00