Patients First deplores repeated bailiff threat against midwife whistleblower
Patients First, the UK NHS whistleblowers network is shocked at the months of threats of bailiffs against Elsie Gayle, a victimised whistleblower, which culminated in further threats early this week.
Elsie is a well regarded longstanding midwife, described by an Appeal Court judge as an “excellent” midwife. Her commitment to patients has never been questioned nor has her upholding of midwifery ethics.
Elsie was dismissed by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, allegedly for working whilst sick.
The facts are as follows:
1. Elsie was dismissed after raising a number of serious concerns about dangerous midwifery practice and race discrimination. The Trust refused to investigate these properly. From the moment she raised those concerns it because clear that senior managers at the trust resented her raising difficult concerns that were shared by other staff who were afraid to raise them. At the time the NHS staff survey for the Trust was showing there were serious concerns about the treatment of staff – and implication for services. The Trust was also experiencing a high number of avoidable incidents.
2. The impact of this detrimental treatment led Elsie to find work incredibly stressful thanks to the targeted bullying she suffered. Whilst off sick, with the support of her GP, and with the knowledge of the Trust, she continued with one day a week working for a community midwifery project run by a voluntary organisation. She got this part-time job when the Trust in a very poor process failed to promote her.
3. Eventually the Trust thought this provided the opportunity they had been waiting for and suspended her. Elsie refused to attend meeting unaccompanied and for her refusal to do so as then faced with further disciplinary action. The Trust decided they had found the opportunity they had been seeking for two years and after a seriously flawed process, dismissed Elsie.
4. Elsie has always asked, if this was the real reason for sacking her, why was she not, unlike all other nurses in this Trust accused of fraud, reported immediately to the NMC? She never has been reported for the simple reason that if she had been the whistleblowing concerns would have come into the open.
5. It is normal that if NHS whistleblowers are disciplined or sacked they are disciplined or sacked for some reason other than whistleblowing. That does not mean that the act of whistleblowing was not the real reason.
6. The Trust now say they seek monies from some of their court costs. In fact the trust wasted much larger sums in the original cases, forcing Elsie to cease her own appeal because she could no longer match the financial resources of the Trust.
7. After years of lobbying we finally obtained a meeting with the new chief executive on September 12th. Despite follow up letters, we have made no progress. Five minutes after tweeting our concerns at the return of the bailiffs, however, we were told we would, after all, be getting a response to our latest letter of December 3rd
8. Elsie Gayle’s only sought better services for patients and better treatment for staff. She deserves better than the treatment she has had which is a warning to others in the trust. We had hoped that the arrival of a new chief executive from Barts might help us find a way forward. We still do. The Trust has the power to call off the bailiffs once and for all. We invite them, again, to do so, and to ensure that there is a proper investigation into the safety of services and support of staff in the service she once worked for.
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Definitions of a whistle-blower
“a person who informs on someone engaged in an illicit activity” Source: Oxford dictionary
“a person who tells someone in authority about something illegal that is happening, especially in a government department or a company” Source: Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary
Or to Blow the whistle:
“bring an illicit activity to an end by informing on (the person responsible)” Source: Oxford dictionary