“NHS spends Â£15million (the same as 750 nurses’ salaries) on gagging 600 whistleblowers.”
The headlines areÂ particularlyÂ shrill thisÂ morning – and utterlyÂ misplaced.
The NHS is anÂ inanimateÂ object, a legalÂ entity, comprised of human beings. Human beings that we are encouraged to believe are grisly, heartless, death dealing,Â automatons that rose up in the night and ‘forced’ confidentiality clausesÂ Â on those throughly good eggs known as ‘whistle blowers’ who only have our health, wealth andÂ happinessÂ at heart but are prevented from showing usÂ justÂ how much they care for ourÂ well-beingÂ by those grisly, heartless… – repeat ad nauseum.
Whoa there,Â justÂ hold on a minute and let us turn this round.
The NHS used to contain 600 individuals who were prepared to accept money, nay negotiated for it via theirÂ solicitors, asked for it, and accepted it – with accompanying confidentiality clause, leaving them ‘prevented from speaking out for fear of legal action.’
For a start, we have no idea how many of those individuals were potential whistleblowers – the 600 figure is for those who accepted severance pay.
Some of them will have been negotiating aÂ settlementÂ for ‘constructiveÂ dismissal’. In the last couple of weeks I have had several long winded e-mails from someone who wanted me to campaign on his behalfÂ followingÂ his ‘constructiveÂ dismissal’ from a commercial organisation – notwithstanding that he had asked for and received severance pay. After several exchanges it turns out that the gentleman is ‘gay’ and was claiming to have been ‘sexuallyÂ humiliated’Â by his lady boss asking if he wouldn’t like to go home with her one night and try out a ‘real woman’; an unwise comment, if true, in today’s politically correct office environment – but the only alternative to negotiating aÂ suitableÂ ’hand-out’ of the shareholders money to shut him up would have been all theÂ publicity and cost attendant an employment tribunal.Â Â Now he wants to furtherÂ humiliateÂ the lady for her unwise remark byÂ enlistingÂ my help inÂ publicisingÂ the matter – not on your Nelly, flower!
Some of those 600 severance contracts will have been for similar reasons for a payout. Some of them will have claimed to have been overlooked for promotion for racist reasons. Do you know there has been an employment tribunal sitting since August 2011,Â almostÂ two years, painfully clawingÂ theirÂ way through 110Â separateÂ claimsÂ of discrimination in respect of a married couple who worked in a solicitor’s office and who claim they have been discriminated againstÂ becauseÂ she is ‘of a lower caste than he‘? The case hasÂ justÂ collapsedÂ becauseÂ of external reasons and now the whole thing has to start up again with a newÂ judge. Can you begin to imagine the costÂ involved, both to the state and to the firm of solicitors that employed these two? YouÂ wonderÂ why lawyers agree out of court settlements -Â completeÂ with confidentiality clauses to prevent disgruntled employees from taking the money and still trying to extract revenge for whatever?
Nothing prevented these potential whistle blowers from whistle blowing to their hearts content – revealing the full gory details of how the NHS was a danger to our health – except their own desire to negotiate a severance package. If it is true that they held information which would have saved hundreds of people from an early death, and traded the ability to reveal that information for money – then IÂ despiseÂ them utterly – they should never have been working for the NHS in the first place.
The NHS has aÂ hostÂ of faults, too many to count, but forcing people to take money in return for keeping quiet on life or deathÂ mattersÂ is not, I suspect one of them.
It’s a great headline for theÂ conspiracyÂ theoristsÂ though – ‘NHS pays wages of 750 nurses to silence the truth’. Tsk!