Calls for NHS 'thugs' accused of 'guerrilla warfare' to be booted out of Arrowe Park

Liverpool Echo - 02 Mar 2018

Calls have been made for the crisis-hit Arrowe Park Hospital to ‘boot out bullying thugs’ who an MP has accused of carrying out ‘guerrilla warfare’ against other staff members.

The explosive comments have come from Birkenhead MP Frank Field after the hospital found itself at the centre of a bullying scandal involving A&E nurses.

This week the hospital trust’s chair Michael Carr quit his job, just days after the ECHO published a leaked report which highlighted claims of “totally unacceptable” behaviour, evidence of “tribal divisions” and junior staff “set up to fail”.

He added: “The hospital must issue a statement saying that the thugs who dish out the bullying are going to be booted out.

“The board has got to find ways of praising staff who attempt to provide an excellent service while forms of guerrilla warfare have been operated by the bullies against them. They should seek ways, such as allocating free car parking spaces to staff and other similar moves, to show the hospital cares about the staff.”

Mr Field said he has also tabled a Parliamentary question to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and will be asking him to “ensure commissioners are sent in both to protect those staff providing an excellent service and with the instructions to root out the thugs and the bullies”.

The independent report into Arrowe Park found that nurses felt bullied, let down and forced to compromise on care.

A small number of staff were accused of consistent bullying over a long period - and this reportedly “set a standard” for many others to behave badly without fear of consequences.

Researchers at thinNKnow accused bosses of poor management after concluding “nothing seems to be done to change anything” about bad behaviour and performance.

They said negative behaviour had been allowed to go unchallenged, with staff seeing there were no repercussions and enjoying “passive permission and at worst inadvertent encouragement” to behave poorly.

Former Arrowe Park chief executive David Allison also stood down suddenly in January and now Mr Carr has left as well - a move welcomed by the NHS watchdog investigating the hospital.

Ian Dalton, chief executive of NHS Improvement, said on Wednesday: “Today’s news about Michael Carr’s departure is the right thing for patients and the right thing for staff. This is a trust that has had a number of serious leadership, governance and cultural problems which need to be urgently addressed.

“I’m delighted to be able to announce that our intention is for Sir David Henshaw to join David Jago, who has been the acting chief executive since December 2017. Together they will start the process of turning around the trust and making sure it has a strong, permanent leadership team in place to ensure the changes the trust needs are made and are long-lasting.”

Wirral University Teaching Hospital Trust - which runs Arrowe Park - did not respond to Mr Field’s specific remarks, referring the ECHO to previous comments made by acting chief executive David Jago.

Responding to issues at the hospital, Mr Jago told the ECHO: “As soon as concerns were raised with the Executive Team we acted immediately and commissioned an independent review in our Emergency Department, recognising the current challenges we are facing.

“We are now working with colleagues in our Emergency Department to address the issues raised and to move forward in a positive way.

“Our senior team are fully supporting colleagues throughout this entire process.”

Liam Thorp, Liverpool Echo