Patients at risk say suspended BGH staff

Nicky Berry
Nicky Berry

NHS Borders has denied claims that poor standards of clinical practice was putting patients at risk at the Borders General Hospital.

The claim was made in a whistle-blowing letter to a national newspaper, by three members of staff in the audiology department – boss Dawn Saunders and senior audiologists Beverley Herne and Sara Dogget.

In the letter, Ms Saunders claimed “patient care does not come at the forefront of this organisation” and claimed a man’s ear had been perforated by a member of staff through “sheer incompetence”.

She also said that a “competency problem exists” through a lack of retraining.

Two of the trio have since been suspended, while the third signatory is off sick with stress. Ms Saunders said she was targeted by false and malicious complaints against her when she brought up the competency issues with management. Another of the signatories is also suspended, accused of doctoring patient records – an accusation denied by Ms Saunders.

Their claims of victimisation have been rejected by NHS Borders bosses.

Nicky Berry, NHS Borders’ director of nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals, said: “We can confirm that there have been anonymous whistleblowing concerns raised about patient safety in the audiology department.

“We can confirm that in this case we immediately took external expert advice from senior audiologists from another health board who raised no immediate patient safety concerns. They did, however, highlight some areas where practice could be improved and that is moving forward.

“An investigation into the concerns was instigated promptly which has been completed with the recommendations agreed with the whistleblowers.”

“The external advice from another health board about the clinical competency of our staff has been given, and we have had confirmation that our audiology staff are competent clinicians capable of the work assigned to them. Any ongoing matters that are being dealt with through our internal employment policies are confidential between the employer and employee.

“However we would say that in all cases suspension is a neutral act, not a disciplinary action, and alternatives are always considered.”