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CQC found to have unfairly dismissed whistleblowing doctor

CQC found to have unfairly dismissed whistleblowing doctor

A doctor and NHS whistleblower has won a case against the CQC over his unfair dismissal from an adviser role.

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Shyam Kumar was found last week to have been unfairly dismissed from his part-time role as a CQC special adviser on hospital inspections.

In the four years prior to his sacking in 2019, Mr Kumar wrote to senior CQC colleagues with issues such as a hospital inspection during which whistleblowing doctors were not allowed to share their concerns.

Mr Kumar said he raised worries on multiple occasions about a surgeon at his own trust, Morecambe Bay, who had done operations that were ‘inappropriate’ and of an ‘unacceptable quality’.

He warned the CQC that the trust aimed to bury the incidents ‘under the carpet’, but the surgeon later had conditions put on his licence to practise.

The tribunal’s judgement said: ‘It is very clear that the emails and concerns raised by Mr Kumar had a material impact on the decision to disengage him.’

Mr Kumar has been awarded compensation. 

BBC News reported Dr Kumar saying: ‘The whole energy of a few individuals in the CQC was spent on gunning me down, rather than focusing on improvement to patient safety and exerting the regulatory duties.’

At a hearing in Manchester last year, Mr Kumar said: ‘I was perceived as a troublemaker within the CQC, or as a thorn in their side.’

BMA council chair Professor Philip Banfield said: ‘It is absolutely paramount that doctors are able to raise safety concerns without fear of recrimination or backlash from employers.

‘This judgment clearly underlines the fundamental need to protect whistleblowers and is a significant legal victory that the BMA is proud to have supported.

‘That such a case happened within the very organisation that is meant to safeguard standards within the NHS and social care is incredibly concerning indeed and the CQC must answer serious questions about its culture and the policies that allowed this to happen.’

A CQC spokesperson said: ‘We accept the findings of the tribunal and recognise that the process of disengaging Mr Kumar from his role as a specialist advisor was handled poorly, without proper explanation.’

They said the CQC has apologised to Mr Kumar, and is grateful for the concerns he raised, which were used to help with inspections.

They added that concerns shared by staff and the public are ‘critical to our work’. As of April 2022, of inspections triggered by new information, 47% were triggered by concerns shared by people who use and work in services and the public, they said.

They added: ‘Since 2019, we have strengthened our processes around the use of specialist advisors and, in line with the findings of the tribunal, will be further improving procedures for disengagement, including adding a right of appeal process.’

The Government recently consulted on whether CQC regulation is ‘appropriate and proportionate’.

And at the start of this year, the CQC admitted its inspection and monitoring methodology ‘may inadvertently disadvantage’ ethnic minority-run GP practices and lead to ‘inequities’.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 5 September, 2022 7:55 pm

And there you have it.
Like we have all known, this is a dirty inside job, continued conspiracy and scapegoating – perhaps the ugliest employer who gets away with it. All you get is a “spokesperson”. Some inept and inert voice of the juggernaut. They tell you one thing, they do the other in front of your face. Don’t worry, the Panorama programme is coming. And the universe is doing it’s rounds. There’s plenty of whistleblowers out there. And plenty to talk about.