Mr Gary Walker, a health service manager claims he was stopped from speaking about patient safety. He said that he was made to sign a ‘gagging order’ which prevented from him from speaking out over concerns about patient safety.
In 2010 Mr Walker was sacked from his job as the chief executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust for gross professional misconduct for allegedly swearing in a meeting. Mr Walker has now said he was forced to quit for refusing to meet Whitehall targets for non-emergency patients.
Mr Walker claims that he warned Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS four years ago that patients were at risk at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust. Two years on, Mr Walker is the first former NHS employee to speak out in defiance of the confidentiality clause imposed upon him. We can only hope that this move encourages other employees to come forward and speak openly about patient safety concerns.
He warned that he was confronted with the same choices that resulted in the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust scandal. He blamed the widespread use the "super gag" within the NHS in an attempt to silence critics. This news comes a week after Robert Francis QC, who led the public inquiry into the Stafford hospital scandal, demanded that such agreements should be banned.
Despite spending 20 years working for the health service, Mr Walker has said he could risk losing his settlement package for his unfair dismissal claim, reported to be at least £500,000, for speaking out.
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