THE head of Solihull Hospital’s trust Mark Newbold has insisted he has never signed a ‘gagging order’ stopping his staff from speaking out.
In an exclusive interview with the Solihull News, Dr Newbold, chief executive of Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, said he has never signed papers silencing hospital staff and regularly encourages employees to speak their mind.
A Freedom of Information request made by the Daily Telegraph newspaper revealed the trust, alongside 28 others, signed ‘judicially mediated settlements,’
NHS chief Sir David Nicholson has also come under fire following accusations he knew about some NHS staff being offered ‘golden goodbyes’ in return for their vow of silence.
But Dr Newbold has said his trust agreements do not contain confidentiality clauses, which would prevent staff from raising concerns about standards in his hospitals.
“Have I signed a gagging order for someone who is raising concerns? - No never and I wouldn’t,” Dr Newbold said.
“Sometimes when people leave, there is something called a compromise agreement, which is a legal document, which finishes the contract.
“None of the ones that were referred to are what I would call gagging orders, they are compromise agreements for people who have left the trust. They are often to protect the employee as well as the trust. That’s just a formal part of HR process.
“In this trust we haven’t signed any compromise agreements that have any clause in that says people can’t speak out about any concerns they have. It’s explicitly not allowed in our agreements and I wouldn’t sign them anyway.”
Dr Newbold said the trust actively encourages staff to raise concerns.
“I am doing all that I can to encourage people to raise concerns. Every Monday morning I see our new starters and the final message I leave them with is that it is their duty to raise concerns if they see them. I can do everything I can to run safe services but it is the staff who are there every day. If they feel they don’t want to raise it with their manager, they can raise it with me - and they do.
“I get half a dozen a month, some anonymous, some not and I always act on them.”
n Read a full interview with Mark Newbold in next week’s Solihull News.