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NHS chief claims he was 'gagged'

14th February 2013

A health service manager has broken a gagging order to voice concerns about patient safety.

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Gary Walker said he was forced to sign an agreement linked to a confidentiality clause in April 2011.

But now he has taken the decision to publicly speak out about his dismissal and his concerns over patient safety.

His interview with the BBC comes a week after Robert Francis QC, who led the public inquiry into the Stafford hospital scandal, called for a ban on gagging agreements.

Mr Walker, 42, said he was reluctant to sign but had little choice as he would have been in danger of losing his house and believes he is now blacklisted and unable to work in the health service again.

In early 2010, Mr Walker was sacked as chief executive of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust for “gross professional misconduct” for allegedly swearing in a meeting.

However, he and former trust board members claim the real reason lay in his refusal to hit Whitehall targets for non-emergency patients.

Mr Walker says demand for emergency hospital beds in 2008 and 2009 was so acute that he felt he had no choice but to abandon the 18-week target for non-emergency cases.

He claims the East Midlands Strategic Health Authority (SHA) instructed him to hit the targets “whatever the demand” and then ordered him to resign when he refused to back down.

The SHA has refuted the allegations and solicitors representing the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust have now written to Mr Walker warning he was in breach of the confidentiality agreement.

 

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