There are some general things and some specific things that I would like the government to do.
At a general level, I would like them to be more aware that there are many miscarriages of justice in the NHS, often involving whistleblowers, but also other staff. They should carry out a listening exercise and talk to staff who have been wronged, they should gather the views of a wide range of clinical staff and managers, and they should look at scientific evidence and academic resources such as those on my website, www.abetternhs.com.
More specifically, I would like two things to happen –
Firstly, I ask that the Department of Health undertakes an urgent review of grievance, suspension, dismissal and appeal procedures in the NHS. They should draw up specific guidelines for these procedures to prevent ‘show trials’ and miscarriages of justice, and the terrible distress they cause, happening in the future. All dismissals of NHS staff in the past five years should be urgently reviewed by Trusts, with independent expert input, to decide if there have been instances of a miscarriage of justice. Some dismissals or suspensions may of course be fair and justifiable for reasons such as patient care. However, where suspensions or dismissals are deemed to have been unsatisfactory, appropriate action should be taken. Thus, for example, where dismissal of a staff member now appears to have been unsatisfactory, in appropriate cases such a dismissal should be downgraded to suspension on full pay pending the outcome of the Department of Health comprehensive review. In all cases where dismissed NHS staff have subsequently been cleared by a professional regulatory body, or by an employment tribunal or related legal authority, this downgrading should be automatic, and in some cases compensation should be offered to individuals who have suffered a miscarriage of justice.
Secondly, I ask that the Department of Health, in its response to the mid-Staffordshire Public Inquiry Report, which it will receive in January 2013, takes into full consideration specific proposals I have outlined on the ‘Towards a Better NHS’ page of my website, www.abetternhs.com
I of course hope that the Department of Health will show some flexibility and respond to my concerns, but if they do not, then I will have no option but to consider further, longer hunger-strikes. It is possible that other NHS employees might join me in any further hunger-strikes.