MP calls for urgent investigation into University Hospitals Birmingham’s toxic culture
Image by Preet Kaur Gill MP
MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, Preet Kaur Gill this week wrote to the Secretary of State for Health, Steve Barclay MP, calling for an investigation into the allegations of bullying and a ‘culture of toxicity’ at University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) which has also had an impact on patient safety.
UHB, which is based in Gill’s constituency, came under fire after BBC Newsnight first investigated the poor patient care and ‘the toxic and Mafia-like culture’. Preet called for an independent investigation and was concerned that the local Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board (ICB) has announced a rapid 3-part review into UHB without discussing with key stakeholders in the region.
University Hospitals Birmingham manages several hospitals, serves 2.2 million people and has a staff of 22,500 making it one of the largest employers in Birmingham Edgbaston constituency and one of the biggest Trusts in the UK.
Since speaking to Newsnight, the Birmingham MP has revealed that she has been inundated by messages from UHB staff, past and present, who have contacted her to share their experience of what has been repeatedly described as a toxic culture that has had an alarming impact on staff and patient care.
Gill said, “I am gravely concerned by the messages I’ve received following the Newsnight investigation. The story I am hearing time and again is that staff who raised concerns about something that they thought was putting patients at risk were often ignored and then penalised for doing so with whistleblowers describing to me a “put up or shut up” culture. The allegations made by whistleblowers add strong evidence to a wider cultural problem that includes senior executive leadership, consultants and nursing.
“We cannot rely on an ICB investigation to solve this issue. Many of those on the ICB are former members of the senior leadership team from UHB and would not offer the independence required to recommend the changes that are so needed or give confidence to whistleblowers. Many messages I have received say that the Newsnight investigation is just “the tip of the iceberg”. Given this has all happened under the watch of the UHB Boards, I do not see how their position as board members remains tenable. For the sake of staff and patient safety alike, we cannot allow these serious allegations to be whitewashed.
“As I said in my letter to the health secretary, there has been a complete failure of leadership, failure of governance and a failure of regulation that must be unearthed and addressed.”