Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust chair leaves: Her successor calls for a review of the handling of the Chris Day case

Val Davison, former chair of the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust

The twists and turns in the Dr Chris Day patient safety whistleblowing case against Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust are continuing even before the judge Anne Martin delivers her verdict later this year.

At a public trust board meeting yesterday local campaigners led by a local GP turned up to protest and demand action about the revelations revealed at the 16 day tribunal which included the destruction of 90,000 emails at the trust affecting his case and the revelation that the trust had lied to a judge about the record of notes of a Sunday telephone board meeting four years ago which approved the controversial settlement of Dr Day’s whistleblowing case.

Dr Day has had an eight years battle with the trust after he made protected disclosures on patient safety and inadequate staffing at the intensive care unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich which is run by the trust.

And even now new documents are coming to light as a result of the hearing showing the secret support given to Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust by senior officials at NHS England.

The public board meeting was chaired by Mike Bell, who is also chair of the Croydon NHS Trust, who evidently had been appointed on July 6 – midway through the Chris Day tribunal hearing – according to a press release from Croydon NHS Trust which disclosed he had taken over on July 25 – the day before the board met. He is remaining the chair of Croydon NHS Trust for the moment.

Mike Bell, new chair of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust while remaining chair of Croydon NHS Trust Pic credit: Business in the Community

Dr Bob Gill, a local GP, addressed the board, seeking an explanation of all the revelations that had come out at the tribunal hearing. Members of the board did not react to the catalogue of failures to provide information to the tribunal or the mass destruction of emails by David Cocke, the communications director, who failed to give evidence at the hearing.

Here is Dr Bob Gill at the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust putting the case for action following the scandalous disclosures at the Dr Chris Day tribunal hearing

Mr Bell said he had written to NHS England requesting a review of the Dr Chris Day case which he promised would be published. This could be embarrassing for NHS England – since Claire McLaughlan who conducted the review into Dr Day’s protected disclosures and covered up the patient safety issue that led to two deaths at the hospital – is Chair for NHS England’s Performers List Decision making panels( they decide the internal inquiries for trusts.

See my profile of her here

The GP had the backing of local groups, Reclaim the NHS (Previously Keep Our NHS Public – Greenwich)
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Patient Forum, and Your NHS Needs You.

In a letter to the trust which quotes extensively from blogs on this site and from an article in Computer Weekly by journalist Tommy Greene the groups ask the following questions of the board:

  1. What steps will LGT take to investigate the serious issues outlined above [ which came out during the hearings]?
  2. Have either Ben Travis[ the chief executive] or David Cocke been suspended pending a full investigation into their actions in relation to the Day case?
  3. As requested by Sir Norman Lamb, will LGT[the trust]now undertake an independent public
    inquiry into its conduct of this case and the dangerous conditions – including avoidable deaths – in its ICU department during the period when Dr Day raised patient safety concerns?
  4. Has LGT informed the police about the potential criminal action taken by Mr Cocke?
  5. Has LGT informed the Information Commissioner’s Office about the destruction of Janet Lynch’s [former workforce and education director who was the lead figure in pursuing Dr day’s case] email account and the actions taken by Mr Cocke?
  6. What steps will LGT take to recover the evidence that has been destroyed? Any efforts must have public confidence and be independent.
  7. How can LGT rebuild public trust that it will not be party to such serious misconduct in the future?
  8. How will LGT avoid further expensive and destructive litigation against whistleblowers who raise serious patient safety concerns, and rebuild trust of medical staff silenced by the actions taken against Dr Day?

I put some questions to the trust along similar lines and asked for an explanation of the changeover of the chair.

A spokesperson for the Trust said: “As legal proceedings are still ongoing, we are unable to provide a comment at this time.”

Steve Reed, former Executive Regional Managing Director (London) NHS England, recently in charge of the Covid and Flu vaccination programme

Meanwhile the latest tranche of documents have shown that another senior official – at NHS England, Steve Russell, then Executive Regional Managing Director (London), was directly involved in backing the trust to put a press statement on Dr Day in 2018 which former health minister Sir Norman Lamb described to the tribunal as ” inaccurate, damaging and defamatory” .

In one email he said he was ” happy to support you on this” adding “If you can give us an hour or two to socialise nationally that will be very helpful.”

Steve Russell went on to become chief executive of Harrogate Hospital Foundation Trust and then was seconded to NHS England to run the Covid and flu vaccine programme.

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