Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Banned but not Gagged!

Health campaigner - Paul Broadhurst

A local pensioner and health campaigner from Dukinfield, in Greater Manchester, has received an invitation to a 'community open day' at 'Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust', despite being banned from entering hospital premises since November 2016.

Last September, Paul Broadhurst, received a letter from Weightmans solicitors of Liverpool- who act on behalf of Tameside Hospital - advising him that he was banned from entering any Trust premises unless his attendance was for a medical emergency or a pre-arranged medical appointment.

In October 2016, Mr. Broadhurst, who suffers from a serious heart condition, was escorted off the hospital premises by security staff while accompanying his wife who was attending the hospital for emergency medical treatment. He was told by hospital security staff that he'd been 'ASBO'd' and would have to leave the premises immediately. The CEO, of Tameside Hospital, Karen James, subsequently apologised for the way Mr Broadhurst and his wife had been treated, but the ban was not lifted. The letter form Weightmans solicitors, 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."

To justify their actions in excluding Mr Broadhurst, the hospital alleges that he had called for the resignation of Paul Connellan, the Chairman of the hospital Board, and had disrupted meetings and intimidated staff. While Mr Broadhurst acknowledges that he's called on Connellan to resign, he says that many of the allegations made against him by the hospital are malicious, defamatory and unsubstantiated.  He says that in spite of seeking specific details about the nature of any complaints that have been made against him, neither the hospital or their solicitors, have been able to provide him with any "hard evidence." He also points out that his membership of the hospital Trust, has never been rescinded, although he cannot attend hospital meetings because of the ban.

It has often been cited in official reports on Tameside Hospital that hospital staff frequently feel bullied and harassed, not by Mr Broadhurst, but by Tameside Hospital management. Even though the hospital as a policy of "if in doubt speak out", many hospital staff have indicated in these reports that they feel at risk if they speak out about their concerns. Mr Broadhurst, alleges that one public governor from Droylsden, was forced to resign in February 2016, after raising concerns about "NHS Improvements." In his own particular case, he feels that the ban imposed by Tameside Hospital, is a crude attempt to silence him and to stop him asking awkward and critical questions and attending hospital meetings.

Tameside Hospital is massively in debt and this is a major reason why it was recently announced that Shire Hill Hospital in Glossop, is to close. The hospital are also planning to cut 246 beds at Tameside Hospital by 2020. Although the official spiel from the hospital is couched in terms of 'improving services' and 'reconfiguration', the financial considerations are inescapable. In 2010, the official regulator 'Monitor', declared the hospital to be "Clinically and financially unsustainable." In 2015/16 compensation claims hit £9m and we understand that five hospital board members, have recently "jumped ship."

Last year, the Trust balance sheet showed a deficit of £14 million plus a loan from the NHS for hospital improvements (including the new Darnton Unit at the Hospital) of £55 million. By  the end of the current financial year the estimated deficit will be £24 million and the loan will have risen to £78 million. At the declared interest rate of 3.6%, the repayments on the loan alone, will be at least £2.8 million per year.

At the Annual General Meeting of the Tameside and Glossop Clinical Commissioning Group (TGCCG), held at Dukinfield Town Hall on 26 July,  Mr Broadhurst - who was the only member of the public to attend the meeting - asked if the debt of the Trust would affect the ability of the TGCCG when funding or setting up with other service providers for the needs of the community. Kathy Rose, the Chief Financial Officer for TGCCG replied that this would have no bearing on money that the TGCCG allocates, as the hospital deal was directly with NHS Improvements. We understand that Paul Connellan, the Chairman of the Board at Tameside Hospital, who was at the meeting, declined to comment.

While Paul Broadhurst may have been banned from attending meetings at Tameside Hospital, it doesn't appear that the hospital have managed to gag him. He can now be found most weeks at the hospital car park, with placard and T-shirt proudly proclaiming, "THE TRUST THAT HIDES THE TRUTH!"

We understand that after receiving the invitation to attend the Tameside Hospital AGM and the "Open Day", Mr Broadhurst sent an email to the hospital on 23rd August, asking if his ban had been lifted. At the time of writing, we gather that the hospital have yet to respond.

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