“NHS spends £15million (the same as 750 nurses’ salaries) on gagging 600 whistleblowers.”
The headlines are particularly shrill this morning – and utterly misplaced.
The NHS is an inanimate object, a legal entity, comprised of human beings. Human beings that we are encouraged to believe are grisly, heartless, death dealing, automatons that rose up in the night and ‘forced’ confidentiality clauses on those throughly good eggs known as ‘whistle blowers’ who only have our health, wealth and happiness at heart but are prevented from showing us just how much they care for our well-being by those grisly, heartless… – repeat ad nauseum.
Whoa there, just 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 their 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 a settlement for ‘constructive dismissal’. In the last couple of weeks I have had several long winded e-mails from someone who wanted me to campaign on his behalf following his ‘constructive 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 ‘sexually humiliated’ 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 a suitable ’hand-out’ of the shareholders money to shut him up would have been all the publicity and cost attendant an employment tribunal. Now he wants to further humiliate the lady for her unwise remark by enlisting my help in publicising 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, almost two years, painfully clawing their way through 110 separate claims of discrimination in respect of a married couple who worked in a solicitor’s office and who claim they have been discriminated against because she is ‘of a lower caste than he‘? The case has just collapsed because of external reasons and now the whole thing has to start up again with a new judge. Can you begin to imagine the cost involved, both to the state and to the firm of solicitors that employed these two? You wonder why lawyers agree out of court settlements – complete 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 I despise them utterly – they should never have been working for the NHS in the first place.
The NHS has a host of faults, too many to count, but forcing people to take money in return for keeping quiet on life or death matters is not, I suspect one of them.
It’s a great headline for the conspiracy theorists though – ‘NHS pays wages of 750 nurses to silence the truth’. Tsk!