Newsroom - someone lay in a hospital bed

Medical negligence

A culture of fear and poor leadership revealed at Royal Sussex

Damning insight into the “culture of fear” at the Royal Sussex County Hospital – which is currently under police investigation amidst concerns over patient safety – has been revealed in a report from the Royal College of Surgeons.

09 February 2024

A damning review laid bare the reality of the situation within the University Hospitals Sussex Trust, citing “poor management of services for over 20 years” and a series of leadership changes resulting in a lack of direction.

Whistleblowers who raised concerns around the standards of care and working practices within the Trust – which also incorporates the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath – were singled out and dismissed if they spoke up, the review stated, with the executive leadership team said to adopt a “divide and conquer” approach among staff.

This resulted in staff feeling “intimidated” and reluctant to raise concerns due to fears of the consequences, said the report.

Recruitment and staffing issues were also highlighted as being fraught with problems, with a shortage of consultants and poor training of junior doctors, and high cancellation rates and long waiting times as a result.

This culture sets the backdrop to the Operation Bramber investigation by Sussex Police, which is investigating concerns raised from the general surgery and neurosurgery departments at the Royal Sussex between 2015 to 2021.

While the scale of the investigation remains unknown, it is thought to include over 100 cases and involves at least 40 deaths. Sussex Police are currently contacting those whose cases form part of their investigation.

However, it should be noted that the findings of this report from the Royal College of Surgeons, which was conducted last year, apply to a period after the remit of Operation Bramber – raising concerns that problems at the Trust have continued beyond the parameters of the police investigation.

Operation Bramber, and the known issues around standards of care at the Royal Sussex, such as in its maternity unit, have understandably caused great concern in the local community.

Slater and Gordon acts for a number of people whose lives have been adversely impacted by the poor care they have received at the hospital, and recently held a legal clinic in Brighton to show its support for other families who have potentially been affected through offering free-of-charge legal advice to help them better understand their rights and legal position.

Nisha Sharma, principal lawyer in the clinical negligence team at Slater and Gordon, is supporting a number of individuals and families in this matter.

“This report from the Royal College of Surgeons is deeply concerning, and clearly illustrates a Trust which is lacking in leadership and which failed to listen to, or protect, its staff who were acting in the best interests of patients by flagging up their concerns,” says Nisha, who herself lives in Brighton.

“I know the concern and even fear that exists in the local community around the scale of the problems at the Royal Sussex, from people who rely on this hospital and its medical teams for their care.

“At our legal clinic in Brighton, and in our day to day working practice, our team at Slater Gordon are doing all we can to support anyone who has been impacted by the poor standards at the Royal Sussex.

“We know from speaking with clients how little support they have received from the hospital or Trust in relation to their bad – and often traumatic – experiences of care, and believe it is of the utmost importance that people know their rights and legal position.

“We would urge anyone who has been, or suspects they have been, subject to poor or potentially negligent treatment by the Royal Sussex to get in touch. We are here to help.”

To speak with Nisha directly on this matter, contact her on or 0330 995 5687.

Find out more from our medical negligence team
Vitamin B12 misdiagnosis claims
A guide to vitamin B12 misdiagnosis claims
Vitamin B12 misdiagnosis claims

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient, and a deficiency can cause serious health problems. If you think you may have experienced a vitamin B12 misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis, contact one of our medical negligence solicitors

Woman in glasses drinking coffee
Medical negligence
Delayed diagnosis claim
A delayed diagnosis can lead to a medical negligence claim. If your illness or injury worsened because of a delayed medical diagnosis, Slater and Gordon’s specialist legal experts can help get the compensation you deserve.
Medical negligence
Advocating for yourself in healthcare

Often, incidents of medical negligence occur, even if patients flag problems to their doctor. You may not feel able to advocate for yourself, so we want to empower people that haven’t felt listened to by providing resources allowing you to be your own advocate.

Mother holding young son under a tree
Medical negligence
Medical negligence claims guide
Our medical negligence experts have written this guide to help explain the process of making a claim for medical negligence.
Search our website
Sorry, we have no results to show
Please try a different search term.
Oops, something went wrong
Please try typing in your search again.
Back to top