Gary Walker
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Hunt NHS gag warning 'not enough'

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has written to every NHS trust in England warning them against using gagging clauses to stop staff raising concerns over patient care. He says that a culture of openness and transparency is essential to avoid repeating the mistakes at Stafford Hospital - where abuse and neglect led to hundreds of deaths.

Mr Hunt was referring to the case of Gary Walker, a former NHS chief executive in Lincolnshire who breached a confidentiality agreement to talk to the BBC.

But, speaking to Today presenter James Naughtie, Mr Walker said that Mr Hunt had not gone far enough.

"Mr Hunt's focus in his announcement yesterday was all about the trust chairman Paul Richardson gagging me and it's simply not the case that Mr Richardson acted alone."

He added: "I think what Mr Hunt should have said was that he would investigate the Department of Health, the East Midlands Strategic Health Authority and the Lincolnshire Trust - that's the chain of command."

The United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust (ULHT) has told the BBC:: "Allegations that ULHT has attempted to stifle debate about patient safety issues are incorrect. There never has been any such intention - nor will there be in future. Confidentiality clauses relating to Mr Walker concerned his employment dispute with the Trust. We can confirm that under the terms of our agreement with him, Mr Walker is able to raise any concerns about patient safety at ULHT. The trust has a clearly established culture of openness and transparency, and we encourage all staff to raise issues of patient safety at any time."

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday 16 February 2013.

  • 16 Feb 2013
  • From the section UK