What will the Court of Appeal make of the fact that an Alder Hey surgeon has never been investigated or examined on oath over the following facts?
1. After first failing his Equality and Diversity training, he circulated an email mocking a range of protected characteristics; an email which the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) described as “overtly offensive”;
2. He claimed covertly that his whistleblowing colleague Shiban Ahmed was suicidal, then signed a public petition to the opposite effect, stating he never had health concerns about Ahmed. [He then kept his suicide claim from Ahmed’s Employment Tribunal].
3. As soon as he learnt I’d blown the whistle on the above, he advocated that the hospital (ab)use referral to the General Medical Council (GMC) as its “chief weapon” against me.
The same surgeon appeared in the audience at my Employment Tribunal but has never taken the stand to give evidence on any of 1 to 3 above.
The Employment Tribunal was meant to determine if race was a factor when explaining why this surgeon (and others) were treated differently to Ahmed and myself. But the tribunal mixed up the background evidence with the claims, doing justice to neither. As a result, the Employment Tribunal failed to consider in any depth (or at all) the following context (which should shift the onus on to the hospital to explain why it treated its surgeons so differently):
4. The Royal College of Surgeons confirmed racist incidents (plural) in a paediatric surgical department where only Ahmed and I are non-white. Yet the hospital took no action against those behind the incidents, allowing them instead to seek the removal of Ahmed and myself.
5. The hospital spent over £50k of public money failing to prevent release of a damning internal report by Dr Alan Phillips which confirmed that victimisation and discrimination were commonplace in the surgical division in which we worked.
6. The hospital CEO dismissed the above as “routine stuff”, and has never accounted for why she looked to remove whistleblowers (Ahmed and me), yet failed to investigate white surgeons who e.g.
(a) denied all concerns about avoidable harm and child deaths, even after their care was deemed suboptimal by the Royal College of Surgeons and when families were successful in suing the hospital;
(b) suppressed and even altered evidence, only to give multiple false and contradictory accounts when caught;
(c) refused to disclose the emailed Word file of their altered evidence (which would allow full scrutiny of the tracked changes in their tampering);
(d) downloaded a confidential RCS report (as recorded by the British Medical Association representative at the time, and confirmed by the same representative, both at the time and then on oath in 2016);
(e) did 1 to 3 above.
This is an important issue. Incivility and discrimination are associated with healthcare that’s less safe, and of poorer quality. After all, if colleagues can be treated so badly and so readily, what chance that patients and families will always be respected and served properly? In reality, people with disability and those from minority groups often fare worse (even after correction for socio-economic factors). There’s something in the way professionals treat them.
By mixing up evidence and claims, the Employment Tribunal went wrong on this important matter. Proper analysis of contextual evidence becomes all the more vital to unearthing the true picture when prominent surgeons are never going to admit openly to the racism found by the RCS.
For NHS staff and for safety, we have to hope the Court of Appeal can do better.