Health Secretary asked to look at Russells Hall bullying claims
The Health Secretary has been asked to intervene over claims of bullying at the trust which runs Russells Hall Hospital amid anger over a review branded a whitewash.
Bosses at a medical union insist they are not satisfied with an investigation which cleared senior hospital figures of bullying and claim concerns of staff have been "brushed under the carpet".
The independent review into the Dudley Group NHS Trust, which was carried out by law firm Capsticks, has "failed to restore confidence" of staff and had a "detrimental impact on morale", the Hospital Consultants and Specialist Association (HSCA) said.
The union has now escalated the row to Health Secretary Matt Hancock and asked him to take a personal role to help "bring the trust forward".
The investigation was sparked by an "unprecedented" letter of complaint signed by 42 hospital consultants.
Capsticks found there was not a "systemic culture of bullying and intimidation by the trust leadership", although the firm did not investigate individual claims of bullying.
Hospital bosses were, however, told "to consider as a matter of urgency how the trust can increase staff confidence in its existing processes for raising concerns and whistleblowing" after it was found some staff were reluctant to come forward with concerns.
HSCA national officer Rob Quick said: "When so many senior doctors put their head above the parapet, the very least they could have expected was that their concerns would be listened to. Instead, we have seen an attempt by the trust leadership to brush this issue under the carpet.
“While this review revealed a number of serious issues at the trust, it only uncovered the tip of the iceberg, as individual cases were not considered.
“Our message to the trust is that this issue is not going to go away until staff feel secure raising concerns about patient safety and are able to go to work without fearing bullying, harassment or abuse from their managers.”
“We are now calling on the Secretary of State to intervene. While we are of course deeply concerned about the impact that this will have on staff at the hospital, ultimately it is patients who will suffer if the serious issues at Dudley are not addressed.”
The Department of Health said it takes "these kind of reports very seriously".
Dudley Group chief executive Diane Wake said: "We fully accepted the conclusions and recommendations and continue to work on our improvement plan in place that staff helped to develop.
"Senior leadership have had ongoing dialogue with the consultant body and the majority of people we talk to are just as committed as the leaders to move the Trust forward to support an open transparent culture and improve patient care.
"We continue to promote a safe culture with open two-way communication to ensure all staff feel valued and supported in providing quality care for our patients."
It comes just a week after the trust was rated "inadequate" for safety and "requires improvement" overall by the Care Quality Commission.