Code of Conduct for NHS Managers

Has it been breached?

You decide.

At a council meeting held in October 2007, Deborah Lee, former Director of Commissioning of NHS Bristol and now Director of Strategy at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust heard clinicians say that “the issue of the Pathology Services needs to be resolved” (Page 5). In response, she told the councillors that “All the issues raised could be resolved” (Page 7)

The Mishcon Inquiry Report, Page 113:

August 2008

“Mr Pye therefore went to see Deborah Lee, Director of Commissioning at NHS Bristol, and discovered that this was the first that she knew about any concerns about the histopathology department at UHBT. “

Strange that she apparently forgot what happened 10 months earlier, in October 2007.

Deborah Evans, Chief Executive of NHS Bristol, told a member of SWWHAG in this letter dated 26th June 2009, that she did not know what gynaecological misdiagnoses had been referred to in a letter to former Medical Director Jonathan Sheffield.

Deborah Evans letter 26 June 2009

Odd that Ms Evans seems to have forgotten that she had visited North Bristol NHS Trust two days earlier, on 24th June 2009, and obtained specific details of gynaecological and other misdiagnoses.

Appendix 2, Page 5.

9.3a – Review

Oh and then there’s all the references in the Mishcon report to her knowledge of the gynaecological misdiagnoses prior to 24th June 2009. Just do a word search on “Evans” and up they pop.

Dr John Savage, Chair of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, was copied on this letter referred to in the Mishcon report:

2.31   In June 2008, shortly before she left Bristol, Dr Hirschowitz wrote to Dr Graham Rich, the then Chief Executive of UHBT asking him to investigate – “certain deficiencies that I have observed in the cellular pathology service at UBHT because that have serious implications for patient safety”

Strange then that Dr Savage apparently forgot to include the gynae. cases in the press release issued by UHBT a year later on 19th June 2009 announcing an inquiry into 15 cases of misdiagnosis. None of the 15 was a gynaecological case.

Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire Cancer Services Network Meeting of Gynaecology SSG (Site Specific Group), Held on Friday, 12 June 2009 at 3.00 pm In The Brunel Room, Holiday Inn, Bristol Airport

JMurdoch (Mr John Murdoch, Chair of the Gynaecological SSG) referred to an article in Private Eye which alleges mis-diagnosis of a few lung cancers at UH Bristol. This is a sensationalist report which fails to present a balanced view. UHBristol have responded and to restore public confidence have commissioned an external review. NHS employees are advised to refer any enquiries to their respective press offices.”

The Murdoch statement was reported in Private Eye in September 2009, which noted that “In fact, many of the allegations are in his own area and the Trust has confirmed that ‘Mr Murdoch was aware of the serious allegations about gynaecology reporting in June 2008.’ Odd that he should not minute them a year later.” 

One could be forgiven for assuming that amnesia seems to be a job requirement to work in the NHS in Bristol.

The UH Bristol review of 3,508 cases for 2007 that was commissioned to “restore public confidence” didn’t achieve its objective. It backfired because the result was that the overall error rate of the histopathology department was 11% versus an “acceptable error” rate of 1% .


2 responses to “Code of Conduct for NHS Managers

  1. Please note that John Savage’s doctorates are honorary and granted by the University of Bristol and University of the West of England in the early/mid 2000s for services rendered.

    Thus, I find it unusual that he styles himself ‘Dr’ John Savage which is a contravention of usual academic regulation. It misled me as to his academic qualifications.

    All of the PhDs I know who’ve slaved long and hard for their Doctorates don’t style themselves ‘Dr’ even (except in academic matters such as papers and books relating strictly to their discipline) partly so as to avoid misleading others.

    One PhD friend of mind scrupulously avoids using his academically earned ‘Dr’ before his name because over the years he’d found it seemed to upset his GPs some of whom felt he was somehow ‘one-upping’ them….(how mighty are the egos of some medics?!) Most GPs and other medical doctors are allowed the honorific ‘Dr’ by custom and practice only. They do not earn Doctorates in Medicine.

    Just saying. This is an article about Codes of Conduct, after all.

  2. Thanks Pete, your point is well made. Yes this is all about appropriate behaviour and conduct in public office. It is therefore interesting that John Savage aspired to become Avon and Somerset’s first Police and Crime Commissioner – and failed. Bob Ashford beat Savage in a postal ballot to be elected as the Labour candidate for Commissioner.

    As UHBristol is a Foundation Trust, John Savage chairs not only the Trust Board, but the Membership Council of Governors. The Governors have powers to hire and fire the Board Chair and scrutinise his performance. How they are ever supposed to do that when he is their Chair is one of the reasons why Foundation Trust public accountability is a farce.

    A couple of weeks ago a UHBristol governor told members of the public that they have heard from governors in other Trusts that they not allowed to ask questions at Board Meetings and various other restrictions, yet Savage is very open and nice and lets them ask questions.

    In March 2012, the Health Service Journal reported that Monitor’s chief operating officer Stephen Hay told foundation trust governors they should step in earlier if there are quality problems at their trust. He said “You are not in steerage – you are on the bridge, able to sack chairs and non-executive directors.”

    We wonder if has occurred to UHBristol Governors that the reason why Savage is so accommodating may be that he regards most of his Governors as steerage passengers – and therefore incapable of holding him to account.

    However when a member of his Trust, a victim of misdiagnosis, tried to hold him to account at question time at the September 2011 Annual Members’ Meeting, he raised his voice at her and refused to answer.

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