Monthly Archives: March 2015

A Personal Statement from Charlotte Monro

“I am really happy to be returning to work with my team and the rest of the staff at Whipps Cross Hospital and Barts Health NHS Trust. And I look forward to being able to contribute to the work I understand is now under way, in response to the CQC report, to bring about improvement in our hospital. It’s vital that Whipps Cross becomes again a hospital of choice for health staff to work in, where they can provide the best standards of health care to our local population, and find a good future.

Health staff must be able to speak out for their patients and services without fear. They must be free to organise themselves in trade unions and stand as representatives knowing that their rights as a union rep will be respected, and that the role of an independent union campaigning for the interests of the staff, their patients and services is also respected. These were issues at the heart of my case. Its resolution will I hope contribute to building a climate of openness and confidence so needed in our health service.

I want to thank my union UNISON for its backing and support in taking my case to tribunal, and to thank our highly committed legal team. I have been moved and inspired by the support from colleagues, from health campaigners and fellow trade unionists, and so many other people. It has held me up through some pretty difficult times and brought home that the issues I faced have far wider significance for people.
Together we are standing up for what we believe in and this has made all the difference. Let’s continue to do so for the future of our NHS.”

Charlotte Monro, 31st March 2015

Report from Charlotte’s Employment Tribunal 20 March 2015

Report from Charlotte’s  Employment Tribunal  20 March 2015 

Charlotte Monro’s tribunal hearing finished this week and the panel  is now considering  the outcome. The public seats were packed with colleagues, campaigners, friends, family who came to give support and sat gripped through the hours of evidence. The legal team provided by her union UNISON did a fantastic job. For all of us who were there it has been a powerful experience.

Listening to the evidence it became clear that Charlotte had been dismissed because she was an effective trade union rep who had spoken out in a public and that the disciplinary process and sacking were initiated by the senior leadership team or HR and not by her own manager.

The current difficulties Whipps Cross Hospital and Barts Health Trust are in is headline news. An exodus of experienced staff and heavy reliance on agency workers has, as people feared, impacted on patient care. The Care Quality Commission is clear the problem lies in a cultural and leadership issue not with front line staff, and points to the 2013 down banding of nursing staff. Charlotte’s suspension from key trade union duties took place as this was being prepared. Her dismissal cannot in our view be separated from of the culture of bullying and intimidation that has continued to put staff in fear of speaking out.

Reinstatement of Charlotte would be a very real step in moving away from this negative culture and we believe would help to restore staff morale at Whipps Cross.

In the course of the tribunal very important questions have been explored.

On the last day the Trust formally conceded that Charlotte’s speaking at scrutiny committee did amount to a protected disclosure (whistle blowing). She had spoken of concerns over cuts to the excellent Whipps Cross stroke service.

The judge said the tribunal would consider whether or not disciplinary action on any of the other issues would be likely to have been taken if it were not for the claimant speaking at scrutiny, and noted that it was within days of this the disciplinary process was launched.

On the question of a trade union rep talking to staff about their jobs being at risk before the official launch of consultation, the judge identified the potential conflict of interest between the obligations of TU representatives to the people they represent, and an obligation of confidentiality set by an employer.

Charlotte’s past convictions and the fact that they were spent convictions other than in the specific employment context where they should have been declared was a point of focus for the tribunal. The judge was clearly of the view that the specific context of political protests etc. and the circumstances should have been takin into account in considering whether they were relevant to her present employment and long successful career.

Charlotte’s barrister submitted that her dismissal for not declaring spent convictions was a breach of article eight of the human rights act, the right to private and family life. She explained that work is part of a person’s private life because it becomes part of your identity, and that once a conviction is spent it becomes part of private life; therefore a decision to refuse NHS  employment (or to dismiss an employee) as a result  of spent convictions must be considered very carefully and taken only if  genuinely necessary e.g. because of risk to patients. Charlotte’s managers, provided evidence that they were completely confident that Charlotte posed no risk to patients and public; on the contrary they  stated that she did her job extremely well and demonstrated great integrity.

The dismissal was therefore argued to be a breach of Bart’s duty as a public body to uphold human rights.

It was with great concern that we noticed that at least 6 other staff members from Bart’s  were at the Tribunal premises  attending their own Employment Tribunals at the same time as Charlotte.

We await the result of the Employment Tribunal.

Protest at Health and Wellbeing Board

Waltham Forest Save our NHS campaign group protested at the meeting on the Health and Wellbeing board on Thursday 26th March.

The Waltham Forest  Guardian’s report on this can be found here.

The recent events at Whipps Cross, part of Bart’s Health, increased the urgency of this meeting and put pressure on the Health and Wellbeing board to address the problems identified by the group.

Whipps Cross Protestors.jpg-pwrt2



To: Stella Creasy MP
John Cryer MP
Iain Duncan Smith MP

We, as members of Waltham Forest Save Our NHS, are shocked by the latest CQC report on Whipps Cross Hospital. We call on you, our elected representatives to address the impossible financial position in which Whipps now sits. We ask you to address Barts’ private finance initiative (PFI)and work together to remove this debt burden which threatens the continued existence of our local hospital.

Our much loved hospital has been tragically destabilised; it is a victim of both the destructive effects of the Health and Social Care Act (HSCA) and of under-funding. These problems need dealing with at a national level. However, there is one overriding factor behind this crisis which you can help to resolve by working together now: the PFI deals that weigh so heavily on Barts Health Trust (Barts). PFI contributed to Barts’ deficit leaping to £93M in recent months. The PFI costs are unmanageable, unreasonable and growing!

We urge you not to use our NHS for political point-scoring and to work to start resolving the problems that face Waltham Forest’s NHS services. We are confident that other borough residents will wish to join us in this call. Barts is England’s largest hospital trust, has the country’s biggest PFI and its deepest deficit. PFI allows government to keep building costs off its balance sheet and allows business to make profit without risk. None of this is good news for Waltham Forest’s residents.

Barts spends over £2M a week for its PFI deals, an unaffordable amount, far in excess of market rates. Government funding for NHS building projects would have offered much better value. Both Labour and Conservatives have promoted PFI use over the past 20 years. All NHS hospitals are inadequately funded; faced with under-funding, disintegration caused by HSCA and the exorbitant PFI costs, Barts chose to make £58M of cuts last year.

In a vain attempt to save money, Barts management enforced mass redundancies and a demoralising down-banding of staff, which led to the disastrous consequences detailed in the CQC report. Bullying of staff and attempted cost savings resulted in an exodus of experienced skilled staff, low morale, an inability to maintain staffing levels, and a doubling of agency costs, all of which could only have a detrimental impact on patient safety. To add insult to injury, Barts paid millions to private consultants for ‘advice’ rather than listen to its staff.

PFI contracts cause our hospitals to outsource key services even when outsourcing is the more expensive option. Barts Health saved £4M per year by bringing some of the services previously provided under the PFI back in-house. A broader cost-saving exercise must now be implemented, bringing outsourced services in-house across the whole Trust.

East London suffers significant levels of poverty and deprivation, factors that lead to ill health. Funding must be increased and services created that will meet the needs of East London’s growing population. Instead, local health services have been told to make an 11% cut over the next five years. It is clear that services are being sacrificed on the altar of PFI and that PFI costs must be annulled to safeguard the health of the local community. Arguably there is no greater issue affecting the welfare of your constituents. Faced with a perfect storm of HSCA, under-funding and PFI, Barts management cannot see off the PFI problem on its own. As our elected representatives it is incumbent upon each of you to work together to restore NHS services to your constituents, the people who pay not only for the NHS, but for you to properly represent our interests.

We call on you to put aside your political differences and work with Barts and the PFI companies to get rid of the onerous burden of PFI costs. We can then start to restore order at the borough’s much-needed hospital, Whipps Cross and improve health services across Waltham Forest.

Evidently with the general election looming, time is of the essence. We look forward to your response.

Tommy Anderson
Mary Burnett
Claire Chandler
Terry Day
Norma Dudley
Geoff Ellis
Jim Fagan
Janet Frances
Joan Fratter
Jenny Garber
Ray Goodspeed
Noel Hayes
Sian Lattimer
Charlotte Monro
Stuart Monro
Helly McGrother
Lizzie Ray
Michael Rees
Paul Rosenbloom
Karel Schling
Andrew Sharp
Jo Sharp
Judith De Souza
Brian Steedman
Lynne Taylor
Eva Turner | @wfsonhs |

Whipps Cross in Special Measures


Today the CQC report on Whipps Cross was published outlining its performance as inadequate and putting the Trust into Special Measures.

Waltham Forest Healthwatch have made their comments here.

The question of PFI must come in here. Surely the largest PFI must have had some effect on the performance of the Trust. For more on this click here.

There will a lobby of Waltham Forest Council on Wednesday 18 March. 7pm The Town Hall Forest Road.