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Independent Health review sparks deeper probe into bullying claims

Independent Health review sparks deeper probe into bullying claims

Wednesday 08 March 2023

Independent Health review sparks deeper probe into bullying claims

Wednesday 08 March 2023

Some bullying allegations against senior Health Department officials are to be investigated further following an independent review.

Last October, an anonymous letter was sent to senior politicians, civil servants and the island's media which made a number of serious claims about the running of the Hospital and the department.

The letter said that morale in the department had been destroyed by the alleged bullying culture, and that the Hospital was "literally on the point of collapse".

The allegations prompted Government Chief Executive Suzanne Wylie to commission a review into the alleged bullying and misconduct.

Suzanne Wylie - CREDIT: Government of Jersey GoJ

Pictured: Government Chief Executive Suzanne Wylie commissioned a review into allegations of bullying within the Health Department.

That review was completed in January, and Mrs Wylie has said that, while some of the claims should be dismissed, others "may warrant further consideration".

In a statement, she said: "On 3 October 2022, the Government of Jersey received an anonymous letter containing allegations about Health and Community Services. Given the nature of the allegations and that they had been circulated widely without evidence, an independent expert was appointed to objectively conduct an initial review and to assess any evidence available.

"The expert concluded his work in January 2023 and provided the government chief executive with a report. The report recommends that some of the allegations should be dismissed as no evidence was found whatsoever and that a number of other allegations have already been determined under Government of Jersey and/or Health Department processes. It recommends that there were a small number of allegations which may warrant further consideration. The Government of Jersey has notified involved or potentially involved individuals accordingly.

"The report will not be published as it is not appropriate to provide further details that would contain confidential information and breach date protection obligations."

hospitalreview - Hugo Mascie-Taylor

Pictured: Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor's report made 61 recommendations.

It comes after Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor released his damning assessment of the Health Department last August. His report alleged that there was a culture of bullying, "vested interests" and a lack of accountability which posed a threat to patient safety, and contained 61 recommendations to resolve the problem.

Health Minister Karen Wilson subsequently pledged to root out bullying within Health and "transform" the service by introducing new governance procedures, which Professor Mascie-Taylor's report identified as lacking. 

In an interview with Express immediately after publication of his report, Professor Mascie-Taylor said that he believed that it was a “minority that are bad apples” at the Hospital.

He said: “I don't how big a minority, but a minority, and then probably they’re only bad apples in one particular way. So, I think it would be quite wrong to be overly alarmist about this. 

“I don’t think the staff in that institution are particularly different from that in any other hospital, I think it would be wrong to conclude that. I just think that the way it’s constructed, with a lack of accountability, and a lack of openness and transparency, means that you’re not quite sure what is going on.”

He praised Health's Director General, Caroline Landon, for her decision to commission the report - which he said was in part prompted by Medical Director Patrick Armstrong and Chief Nurse Rose Naylor - as "courageous".

Professor Mascie-Taylor's report wasn't the first time that bullying had been flagged as a major issue within the public service.

In 2018, a request under the Freedom of Information Law by Express uncovered a report by UK HR consultants which revealed a "high level" of secret bullying within across government, with employees allegedly "shouted at", "belittled", and made the subject of "loose talk and gossip."

While the government launched a major culture change programme in bid to tackle this, the results of a staff survey leaked to Express in 2021 showed that problems persisted within Health. It showed a rise in the number of staff taking time off due to stress, anxiety or depression, that there was "worryingly low" morale within the workforce, and that harassment policies were sometimes being ignored.

Two former Health workers with experiences of bullying opened up about their experiences in the wake of the report - you can read their testimonies here.


FOCUS: The sickness in the Health Department (2021)

FOCUS: Health workers open up about bullying (2021)

Report reveals States' secret bullying shame (2018)

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Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by Stathia Ekdikisi on
Good to see the progress, albeit the anonymous letter was received in October, almost half a year has passed and none of the allegations got investigated properly. Just an initial screening and shaping expectations towards secrecy. It is fair to assume that the anonymous letter had been an act of desperation. I am sure there had been numerous attempts to alert senior executives to the bullying by the managers and directors. It all must have landed on deaf ears. We had so many reports, articles, surveys and other sources indicating a systemic and serious bullying in the department - a major wave of it happened after Charlie Parker brought in Caroline Landon. She came from the trusts not free from bullying challenges to say least. She then surrounded herself with individuals sharing her philosophy of heavy handed leadership. Only a blind person would not notice these numerous other public cries. The outcomes of this investigation must be presented to the public - as painful as it gets or we will never get rid of the organisational, systemic bullying in the Jersey government.
Posted by DavidPaul97 on
The pyramid needs dismantling - we are rid of Charlie Parker, now we need to move down to those he brought in, and further to the ones they brought in. We might then see a happier and more efficient group at Health.
Posted by Scott Mills on
too many chiefs/cooks whatever you want to call it. The Health is a joke...I look at St.Saviour's old hospital and there's your external and internal view of the service. Boarded up behind closed doors. Bring back matron (or preferably Gladys Emmanuel). She stood for no rubbish, even of a local greengrocer, so she definitely commanded her wards, unlike people in suits sitting in the executive chairs, in front of custom made tables. I would rather be treated in less developed countries than Jersey.
Posted by Keith Marsh on
Nothing will change until the Health's Director General is replaced and a new forward thinking individual is in place.
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