Bid to block whistleblower’s access to ministers
Civil servants in the Department of Health tried to prevent a doctor from raising safety concerns directly with ministers, The Sunday Times reported this weekend.
Dr Raj Mattu complained publicly about the standard of care in a cardiac unit in 2001, and was later suspended and then sacked by the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust. Last month, a tribunal ruled that he was unfairly dismissed.
Documents obtained by the newspaper indicate that officials sought to prevent Mattu from discussing his case with ministers. Phill Shield, an official at the department, wrote in an email in 2009: “The problem we have is that Dr M and his supporters are clearing [sic] looking to escalate things again… we need to get on the front foot and brief ministers about the latest ‘development’ so when they are lobbied (hopefully) they will refuse to get involved in the issue. The last thing we want is for them to get an audience with a health minister.”
MPs had already raised Mattu’s case in Parliament, and the official added: “From memory we have already had several adjournment debates about this individual and that is what we want to prevent.”
A spokesperson for the DH said “The department did not improperly attempt to influence Dr Mattu’s case – it was clear that the final decision on the case was a matter for the employer.
"Due to the very high level of parliamentary and public interest, ministers were kept updated on the progress of the case.”
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