Friday, 6 November 2009


Chief Medical Officer Update Autumn 2009 newsletter issue 49 just informed me that NHS has independent NHS Whistleblowers Helpline (Public Concern at Work-PCaW). How could I resist calling: 020 7404 6609? Chief Medical Officer said they were independent yet authorised by the Department of Health to provide whistleblowing support to the NHS in England until 2011. Wow, a man who likes to be in control. There must be a long line of people waiting to kiss him. So dependable he is.

When I telephoned Public Concern at Work I found they are not really independent in the sense that they have contracts with NHS Trusts.

They protested that I did not understand that they really do provide independent advice.

It seemed reasonable to test them.

On the famous telephone help line for whistleblowers I said I was a consultant psychiatrist who raised the issue of the inappropriate wearing of religious uniforms in mental health setting and took one example of mentally ill patients who were raped. Specific example would be of men raped by clergy when they were children. I said they would not be able to trust Mother Superior working as a Social Worker with their history of abuse. Giving history to a health professional / social worker is the first step in that setting (NHS, Social Services). PCaW wanted to know if it was against the policy to wear religious uniforms. I said there was no policy but there is professional ethics: doctors do not wear white coats in psychiatry and nurses do not wear nursing uniforms in psychiatry. Social workers do not wear uniforms. I explained I did speak with the managers who said they would do something about it, but did nothing. Eventually, I went to the press.

PCaW told me I was asking for trouble by going to the press. They added; "You have to go with them (managers) even if you do not agree with them". Helpfully, the spokesman added: "They probably dismissed you with a good reason". Also he told me that at that time "PIDA was not in place in 1999". I pointed that it was. PIDA is Public Interest Disclosure Act.

Naturally, PCaW are confident that they have been able to help other people raise their concerns.

They tried absolutely everything they could to fob me off. They told me my concerns happened too long ago. When I pointed this was still my concern as religious uniforms were still worn whenworking with mentally ill I was told I held strong views.

I explained that I lost everything, Health Ministers changed (resigned), Prime Ministers changed, but that Department of Health still would not issue a policy about not wearing religious uniforms in mental health.

Eventually, I was told to contact Humanist Society. Well, at least there was a recognition that my concerns had something to do with human beings. When I called them they told me:"Well, I am not sure this is something that we would"...

Department of Health has been informed numerous times they are in breach of Human Rights e.g.

Article 9 Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

1 Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
2 Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Department of Health told me that they will not respond to me but that they will log my letters.

It is the response that is required. The policy on the wearing of uniforms in mental health is faulty, but it can be corrected.

What is responsibility? One way to define it is the ability to respond. According to that definition there are some people in the Department of Health who appear to lack that ability.

Meanwhile, of those raped men who suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder, some would kill themselves and some would kill others.

Post-traumatic stress can cause violence in extreme form.

I am a doctor who raised my concerns appropriately, at the right time to the right people in the authority and discovered an awful lot of irresponsible people. When I read about the recent shooting at the largest military base in USA I wondered if the faults were made because of "political correctness".

My impression of military psychiatrists is that one has to be the darling of establishment to do the job. In UK, the rate of PTSD is about ten times less than in USA in military personnel. Do we really, think that British man is the strongest in the world? Or do we think some of the British psychiatrists are the weakest in the world? Diagnostic criteria are international. Human Rights are international too but it is the application that matters.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has refused to issue the guidance on the wearing of religious uniforms in psychiatry and they have Spiritual Section contrary to their own regulations. Psychiatrists are very well aware on how they can limit the power of the patients and also how to keep status quo in their own interests. Traumatised people guarantee good business for many generations of psychiatrists to come, assuming public continued to maintain them. But the public will not do so. It already has cheaper options to use.

Laws are of no importance, I conclude, in the case of the wearing of religious uniforms because British judges are not willing to protect the whistleblowers and are not acting independently of religion or government.

Meanwhile, the government funded PCaW help line will be just another window dressing exercise. PCaW supports the government, not whistleblowers or the patients or the public.


Urgent Support for Doctors

  • Sick Doctors Trust (For those with dependency problems) 0870 444 5163
  • Doctors for Doctors 08459 200 169
  • Doctors Support line 0870 765 0001
  • NHS-Direct 08456 46 47
  • BMA Counselling Service 08459200169
  • Samaritans 08457 90 90 90
  • National Bullying Helpline 0845 22 55 787