Health Campaigner - Paul Broadhurst
A local health campaigner who is also member of the Tameside Hospital Foundation Trust, has been told by solicitors acting on behalf of Tameside Hospital that he has been banned from the premises of Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust.
In a solicitor’s letter that he received on 9 September, from Weightmans of Liverpool, Paul Broadhurst, from Dukinfield, was told that the hospital was intending to exclude him from the Trust’s premises and that he could now only attend the hospital, when seeking emergency or planned medical treatment. Although Mr Broadhurst, is a member of the hospital trust, the letter warned him:
“If you attend for any other purpose then you would be trespassing and action could be taken to remove you from the site and/or legal action could be brought against you.”
Tameside Hospital claim that they have banned Broadhurst from their premises, because he has campaigned to “harass and discredit the Trust’s employees and officers.” They also allege that he has emailed Trust Governors and Non-Executive Directors criticising the Chair and stating that he should resign. Moreover, that on occasions, he has been seen at the hospital with a placard around his neck and engages in conversations, with people at the hospital. They also claim that he has no legitimate reason to conduct his campaign and recently infiltrated and disrupted a staff focus group meeting, with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The hospital also insists that Mr Broadhurst has failed to use the ‘proper channels’, but don’t explain what these are.
Without doubt, Paul Broadhurst, is an irritant and a thorn in the side of the management at Tameside Hospital. But we do live in a free country and not Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia, as Tameside Hospital, and their solicitors seem to think. What some people may see as quite unreasonable behaviour, is seen by others, as perfectly legitimate activity that is in the public interest. Many people applaud Paul Broadhurst, for his efforts to improve patient care at Tameside Hospital.
When the current CEO, Karen James, took over as interim CEO in the summer of 2013, following the resignation of the then CEO, Christine Green, when the hospital was put into ‘special measures’ following the Keogh review, she promised a new era of openness and transparency. Today, walking around Tameside Hospital, you will see notices displayed, “if in doubt speak out!” The reason for this, is because the hospital has form and a history, for harassing and bullying staff who speak out. You might say that a lack of candour was a major reason why the hospital was put into special measures. Hospital staff knew that to raise concerns, led to reprisals being taken against them by hospital management. In its Annual Report 2014/15 (Our staff), some 21% of staff working at Tameside Hospital claimed to have experienced harassment, bullying or abuse, in the last twelve months. Milton Peña, who worked at Tameside Hospital for seventeen years, as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, has described in detail in his recently published memoirs, the threats and intimidation that was meted out to him by Tameside Hospital management in their quest to stop him speaking out about the lack of patient safety at the hospital.
For Paul Broadhurst, this ban by Tameside Hospital management, is just history repeating itself and a pathetic attempt to stop him speaking out. Five years ago (2011), he was banned from the hospital premises for similar reasons when he received a solicitors letter from Hempson’s in Manchester. When he went to the hospital in 2011, for medical help with a serious heart condition, he was treated like the American gangster, John Dillinger (public enemy number one), and escorted around the hospital by burly security staff as he attended his hospital appointments. He regards many of the allegations made by the hospital as malicious, fabricated and potentially defamatory. While he doesn’t deny calling on the Chair of Tameside Hospital, Paul Connellan, to resign, he says that his “days of action” have always taken place off hospital property and he denies, disrupting any meetings of the Board or Governors, which are held at the hospital and which the public can attend as observers only, and are not allowed to speak. The allegation that he infiltrated and disrupted a meeting with hospital staff and the CQC on 10 August, he regards as ludicrously absurd, pointing out that he’d arranged to meet the manager of the CQC at the hospital, and when asked to wait outside the meeting, had complied immediately.
Although the hospital has been made aware of these facts, they have refused to lift the ban on Paul Broadhurst. Despite asking the solicitor for hard evidence to substantiate the allegations made against him by the hospital, this as not been forthcoming. When he sought to attend the hospital AGM on 27 September 2016, as a member of the public, Mr Broadhurst was denied access by security staff. Just over a week later, on 4 October, when he attended the hospital to accompany his seriously ill wife, Mary, he was thrown off the premises by security staff who falsely claimed that they had an ‘Anti-Social Behaviour Order’ (ASBO) against him. Karen James later apologised for the way he had been treated but refused to lift the ban. Despite the appalling and inhuman behaviour that Mr Broadhurst was subjected to, Ms James, was recently short-listed for the prestigious ‘Chief-Executive-of-the-Year’ health service journal award.
As a member of the Tameside hospital trust, Mr Broadhurst believes the hospital have no legal right to ban him from the premises. He believes that the hospital is harassing him and that their allegations are malicious, false and defamatory. He is also adamant that the hospital has breached his human rights in denying him access to public meetings. The hospital ban has received quite a lot of media publicity with Tameside Hospital management, being held up to ridicule for their actions in trying to silence him, which seems to have had the opposite effect. A group to support Mr Broadhurst has been set up and is demanding that the hospital apologises to Mr Broadhurst and lifts the ban. Perhaps a more appropriate notice for display throughout the hospital run by Karen James, would be: “If in doubt, Watch out!”