Now whistle­blower resigns from char­ity scan­dal health board

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ju­dith Duffy

Awhistle­blow­ers’ cham­pion at a scan­dal-hit health board has quit claim­ing se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions have been ig­nored. Mun­war Hus­sain has stood down from NHS Tay­side and writ­ten to the First Min­is­ter rais­ing con­cerns. He was only ap­pointed the board’s whistle­blow­ing cham­pion in April but con­firmed his res­ig­na­tion yes­ter­day, adding: “It’s se­ri­ous but they are not tak­ing it se­ri­ously.” He did not de­tail the con­cerns be­hind his res­ig­na­tion from the board, re­cently re­vealed to have spent char­ity do­na­tions on a new IT sys­tem, but sources sug­gest a num­ber of se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions that im­pacted on pa­tient care had been passed to him in his watch­dog role.

I have put my con­cerns in writ­ing

Awhistle­blow­ers’ cham­pion at a scan­dal-hit health board has quit claim­ing se­ri­ous is­sues were be­ing ig­nored. Mun­war Hus­sain has stood down from NHS Tay­side board and writ­ten to the First Min­is­ter and Health Sec­re­tary Jeane Free­man to raise his con­cerns. He had been ap­pointed the board’s whistle­blow­ing cham­pion – a role meant to en­sure staff’s con­cerns were treated se­ri­ously – in April and was also chair of the board’s staff gov­er­nance com­mit­tee and a mem­ber of the au­dit and re­mu­ner­a­tion com­mit­tees. Yes­ter­day, he told the Sun­day Post: “I have de­cided to re­sign my po­si­tion from NHS Tay­side. “I am on stress leave from this role. I have taken the de­ci­sion not to re­turn when my leave ex­pires and I have no­ti­fied the chair­man. “Cer­tain mat­ters were es­ca­lated to me that were se­ri­ous and cause for con­cern. I, in turn, high­lighted th­ese is­sues to the chair­man and oth­ers. I feel that I have not been given the ap­pro­pri­ate as­sur­ances that th­ese im­por­tant mat­ters are be­ing dealt with. I have put the range of my con­cerns in writ­ing to the cab­i­net sec­re­tary and the First Min­is­ter. I am still wait­ing on a re­ply.” He re­fused to de­tail the is­sues he raised, but added: “I feel it’s se­ri­ous but they are not tak­ing it se­ri­ously.” NHS Tay­side con­firmed Mr Hus­sain has re­signed with ef­fect from Oc­to­ber 17, adding: “We can con­firm that Mr Hus­sain raised con­cerns re­lat­ing to one par­tic­u­lar case and this is cur­rently un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.” He is one of three res­ig­na­tions from the board, also in­clud­ing the vice-chair Stephen Hay and Doug Cross, chair of the fi­nance and re­sources com­mit­tee. All three are mem­bers of the au­dit com­mit­tee. They have stood down af­ter both the chief ex­ec­u­tive and chair left their posts af­ter it emerged NHS Tay­side had taken char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions to pay for an IT sys­tem. NHS Tay­side said: “Non-ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers of Tay­side NHS Board Doug Cross, Stephen Hay and Mun­war Hus­sain have de­cided to step down from the board and will leave over the next few weeks.” The de­par­tures come as two re­ports into the fi­nan­cial scan­dals at NHS Tay­side are ex­pected to be pub­lished in the com­ing weeks. The cri­sis at NHS Tay­side emerged ear­lier this year when it was re­vealed more than £2 mil­lion had been taken from its en­dow­ment fund – made up of pub­lic do­na­tions and be­quests from wills – to cover the costs of new IT sys­tems in 2014. Au­di­tors also found ac­counts had been “mis­rep­re­sented”, with a prac­tice of us­ing funds ear­marked for e-health ini­tia­tives to off­set gen­eral ex­pen­di­ture since 2012. It led to the res­ig­na­tion of chair Pro­fes­sor John Con­nell in April af­ter then Health Sec­re­tary Shona Ro­bi­son took the un­usual step of calling for him to step down. Chief ex­ec­u­tive Les­ley McLay was ef­fec­tively re­moved from her post in the same month and left at the end of July af­ter go­ing off on sick leave. The char­ity reg­u­la­tor OSCR launched an in­quiry into the use of Tay­side NHS Board’s en­dow­ment fund, which is ex­pected to report by the end of Septem­ber. Scot­tish Labour’s health spokesper­son, Anas Sar­war MSP, said: “Th­ese res­ig­na­tions throw NHS Tay­side into fresh turmoil, and mem­bers of the pub­lic will rightly want to know what caused half of the com­mit­tee to dra­mat­i­cally re­sign.” Miles Briggs, Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive shadow health sec­re­tary, added: “NHS Tay­side has been limp­ing from one con­tro­versy to another, so both the tim­ing and the na­ture of the res­ig­na­tions will raise ques­tions.” A Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokes­woman said: “Min­is­ters are aware of th­ese res­ig­na­tions and would like to thank those mem­bers for their con­tri­bu­tion to NHS Tay­side. Any is­sues raised around whistle­blow­ing will be fully ex­plored in ac­cor­dance with ex­ist­ing NHS whistle­blow­ing pol­icy.”

Mun­war Hus­sain

Pro­fes­sor John Con­nell and Les­ley McLay, above, left NHS Tay­side this year, af­ter the char­ity scan­dal while res­ig­na­tions of Doug Cross, top, Stephen Hay, be­low, and Mun­war Hus­sain can be re­vealed to­day

Mun­war Hus­sain

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