ULHT reinforces claims it did not stifle former chief executive’s freedom of speech

News from the Boston Standard, Lincolnshire: bostonstandard.co.uk, on Twitter @standardboston
News from the Boston Standard, Lincolnshire: bostonstandard.co.uk, on Twitter @standardboston

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT), which runs Pilgrim Hospital, has yet again stated its commitment to free speech in the wake of claims from a former chief executive that he was stopped from raising patient safety concerns.

Gary Walker said he was threatened with losing a £500,000 pay out which he was given when he left the trust after breaking a ‘gagging order’ stopping him from speaking out about issues in the hospital.

ULHT denied that this was the case, stating that confidentiality clauses relating to Mr Walker were to do with his employment dispute and nothing else.

Today, the trust said it had once again written to the former employee to reinforce the fact he was at liberty to raise his concerns as he wished.

Current chief executive Jane Lewington said: “This further reassurance is given in our trust’s spirit of openness and transparency, which encourages all staff to raise issues about patient safety at any time. We hope that Mr Walker recognises it as a positive step, made in good faith.”

“Our focus is on the quality and safety of the healthcare we currently provide for the people of Lincolnshire in 2013.”

Mr Walker spoke about his concerns – and the alleged ‘gagging order’ – following the launch of a government investigation into high death rates within ULHT which was sparked by a damning report about practices at Mid-Staffordshire hospitals.

The trust maintains that improvements have been made in recent years, and that it welcomes this probe.