Fury over ‘name and shame’ site for Blackpool doctors

A web page set up to “name and shame” staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital has today been slammed by furious health workers and patients groups.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 1st June 2015, 10:00 am
Blackpool Victoria Hospital Urgent Care/Accident & Emergency Unit.The Emergency Room.
Blackpool Victoria Hospital Urgent Care/Accident & Emergency Unit.The Emergency Room.

The page, on social networking site Facebook, which The Gazette has decided not to name, claims it will “investigate” and “name and shame” NHS workers in Blackpool which it believes are not doing their jobs.

But it has today been widely condemned as a “witch hunt” by professionals, who say the page is “dangerous” and that it could cause “irreparable” damage to the reputations of hard-working staff.

And medical bosses have confirmed they are monitoring the page, which so far only has 25 ‘likes’.

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The page reads: “This is the extreme measure which might not be appreciated by many but when management fails to do anything about these lazy and useless staff, we have to name and shame them, so everyone will know exactly who they are.”

A later post reads: “You only need to inbox us with your concerns regarding any staff member and we will publish it.”

But it has already come under attack from people who have visited the page.

Bev Baxter said “slander” could cause “irreparable damage”. She said: “I think this page is very dangerous.

“If an allegation is made then a full investigation will be done by the relevant authorities.” One woman, a cancer nurse specialist, said the page was a “disgrace” and should be “removed immediately”.

Another woman, a ward sister, said the page was like a “witch hunt”.

Ms Baxter said that she feels the relevant authorities should be the first point of contact for anyone with concerns about patient safety or staff practice.

She added: “If you genuinely feel that you have any positive cases that have been mishandled then you should contact Care Quality Commission.”

Bosses at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have stressed that their staff work “tirelessly” to provide the “highest standards” and said it will protect and support anyone directly affected by the page.

Nicky Ingham, director of workforce and organisational development at the Trust, said: “We are aware of the Facebook site and are constantly monitoring it to protect our staff who we know work tirelessly to deliver the highest standards of care possible.

“We have given all staff advice about the appropriate use of social media and reminded them of their professional responsibilities in this area.

“In addition staff that have been affected by this are being provided with appropriate support.”

Patients groups have also condemned the page and moved to support those working in the NHS as well as offer reassurance that appropriate action can be taken if any patient has concerns about medical care. A Blackpool Healthwatch spokesman said: “Blackpool Victoria Hospital has policies and procedures in place to deal with allegations of misconduct, issues, concerns and complaints whether it be from a patient or employees.

“Unorthodox sites like these can have serious repercussions for those involved and are extremely damaging to the reputation of the hospital and for those who are working hard to care for and treat the patients.

“Healthwatch Blackpool is the consumer voice of health and social care.

“It is our job to ensure that the issues and concerns of local people about their local services are listened to and acknowledged by commissioners and providers. We would urge any patient or employee to contact us to raise any concerns with the service standards so that these can be acted upon in the most appropriate manner.”

Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, said: “There needs to be space for people to report malpractice and poor working practices - and sadly that does occur within the NHS - but Facebook is probably not the way to do that.”

He said there are “numerous” ways whistle-blowers and disgruntled patients can raise their concerns without resorting to posting potentially defamatory comments online.

He added: “The internet is always full of things you can’t control and I am sure individuals will not like the fact they are being criticised on the internet.

“If something libellous does appear on there, I would hope the hospital does take action.”

Anyone with concerns about health services can contact Healthwatch Blackpool by calling (01253) 477959 or visiting www.healthwatchblackpool.co.uk.