Posts Tagged ‘Industrial Tribunal’

Monbiot’s List of the Corporate Politicos in Blair’s Government: Part Two

April 23, 2016

Stephanie Monk

Human Resources director, Granada Group plc., which appealed against an industrial tribunal to reinstate workers sacked for going on strike after their pay was cut from £140 to £100 a week.

Member of the Low Pay Commission on the minimum wage, and the New Deal Taskforce.

Sue Clifton

Executive director, Group 4, criticised for mishandling of child offenders after escapes, bullying, riots and attacks on staff.

Advisor to the government’s Youth Justice Board on how young offenders should be handled.

Keith McCullagh

Chief executive of British Biotech. This company has been repeatedly censured by the Stock Exchange, particularly when it was revealed that it’s leading drug product didn’t work.

Chairman of the government’s Finance Advisory Group to help high-tech companies gain financial investors’ confidence.

Sir Robin Biggam

Non-executive director, British Aerospace, which sells weapons to Turkey, some of which are used against the Kurdish separatists.

Chairman of the Independent Television Commission. This revoked the license of the Kurdish satellite station Med TV because of complaints from Turkey that it gave a platform to Kurdish separatists.

Neville Bain

Non-executive director, Safeway, one of the supermarkets which was swallowing branches of the Post Office.

Made chairman of the Post Office.

Robert Osborne

Head of Special Projects division of Tarmac Plc, one of the major constructors of PFI hospitals.

Chief Executive of the Department of Health’s Private Finance Unit. In 1998, returned to Tarmac to run PFI division.

David Steeds

Corporate Development Director of Serco Group Plc.

Chief executive of the government’s Private Finance Panel.

Tony Edwards

Director of the TI Group, which owned Matrix Churchill, the company which provided machine tools to manufacture arms to the Iraqis. He is the company’s chief executive, which is engaged in 150 military operations around the world.

Head of the government’s Defence Export Services Organisation, advising the government on granting licenses to companies wishing to sell arms to different countries around the world.

Neil Caldwell

Director of PTBRO, the distributor of the government’s landfill tax money, for which it receives 10 per cent of the amount handled in administration fees.

Director of Entrust, the regulatory body supervising the distribution of landfill tax money.

Judith Hanratty

Company Secretary, BP-Amoco Plc, one of the most controversial mergers of the 1990s as it amalgamated two of the world’s biggest companies.

On the board of the Competition Commission, monitoring and regulating corporate mergers.

John Rickford

On the board of BT, which has been frequently attacked for having too great a share of the market.

On the board of the Competition Commission.

Sir Alan Cockshaw

Chairman of Construction Company AMEC
Watson Steel, part of AMEC group, won contract to build the masts and cables on the Millennium Dome.

Chairman of the government’s Commission for New Towns. Chairman of the government agency English Partnerships, which is supposed to help ensure that new developments meet public needs.

On the board of the New Millennium Experience Company, firm set up by government to supervise the millennium celebrations.

Michael Mallinson

Property of industry lobby group for property developers, the British Property Federation.

Deputy Chairman, English Partnerships.

Peter Mason

Group Chief Executive, AMEC plc. In 1997 the company was the seventh largest recipient of support from the government’s Export Credit Guarantee Department for construction work in Hong Kong.

The trade body to which it belonged, The Export Group for the Construction Industries – has lobbied against the inclusion of environmental and human rights conditions in the Export Credit Guarantee Department’s loans.

On the Export Guarantees Advisory Council, which governs the payment of government money by the Export Credit Guarantee Department. Liz Airey, a non-executive director of Amec, is another member.

Professor Sir John Cadogan

Research Director of BP.

Director-General of the Research Councils, which are supposed to fund scientific work that doesn’t have an obvious or immediate application for industry.

Sir Anthony Cleaver

Chairman of the Atomic Energy Authority Technology Plc, which oversaw the organisational changes at Dounreay. These were criticised by the Health and Safety Executive as leaving the company in a poor position to decommission the site. Some researchers believed that Dounreay was the most dangerous nuclear site in Western Europe.

Chairman of the government’s Medical Research Council, which has been repeatedly criticised for failing to provide research funds for investigating the medical effects of radiation. Also member of the government’s panel on sustainable development.

Peter Doyle

Executive director, Zeneca Group Plc. Zeneca’s a major biotechnology firm, and was the foremost developer in Britain of GM crops. The company was engaged in a ten-year deal with the John Innes Centre in Norwich to find profitable applications for biotechnology.

Chairman of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, which gives substantial funding to the John Innes Research Institute. Employees of Zeneca sit on all seven of the BBSRC specialist committees.

Member of the government’s advisory committee on Business and the Environment.

Professor Nigel Poole

External and Regulatory Affairs Manager of Zeneca Plant Science; sits on five of the taskforces set up by EuropaBio, the lobbying organisation seeking to persuade European governments to deregulate GM organisms.

Member of the government’s Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment.

Professor John Hillman

Member of the board of the Bioindustry Association, the lobbying group seeking to ‘enhance the status of the industry within government’.

Director of the government’s Scottish Crop Research Institute, charged with supervising government-funded research projects and providing the government with impartial advice on biotechnology.

Antony Pike

Director General of the British Agrochemicals Association Ltd; Managing director of Schering Agrochemicals/ AgrEvo UK Ltd.

Chairman of the government’s Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA), carrying out and funding research into cereal crops. It has not funded any projects aimed at improving organic cereal production.

Professor P.J. Agett

Head of the School of Medicine and Health, University of Central Lancashire. This has received support for its research from three companies producing baby milk. Agett has personally received fees from two companies producing baby milk, including Nestle. The promotion of baby milk to developing nations is one of the most controversial issues in food and nutrition.

Chair of the Department of Health’s Committee on the Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA). Three other members of COMA have either directly benefited from payments from the baby milk manufacturers or belong to academic departments which have. One of those, who personally received payments was a Nestle executive.

Professor Peter Schroeder

Nestlé’s director of research and development.

Director of the government’s Institute of Food Research.

Sir Alastair Morton

Chairman of the Channel Tunnel construction consortium, Eurotunnel. This had debts of £9m.

Advised John Prescott on financing of Channel Tunnel Rail Link; Chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority responsible for advising the government on the use of significant amounts to the industry, and ensuring that rail transport gives good value for money.

From 2001: Appalling Standards and Neglect at BUPA Care Home

February 1, 2015

I’ve put up several stories recently from Private Eye covering cases of the extremely low standards of care in private hospitals. As I’ve said before, these are important as the government is desperately trying to privatise the NHS under the assumption that private enterprise is more efficient than state provision. In their edition for the 30th November – 13 December 2001, the Eye ran this story about the abuse and neglect of patients in a BUPA care home in Kent.

Less Than Super-BUPA

While one of Bupa’s directors, Des Kelly, has been advising Tony Blair on care of the elderly, a Bupa care hom ein Kent has been at the centre of grave allegations of abuse and neglect.

Seven care workers who blew the whistle on a catalogue of cruelty, ill-treatment, doping with sedatives and the withholding of drugs and treatment at the £322-a-week Isard House in Bromley are due to be awarded compensation at employment tribunal this week.

Except that the seven – six women and one man – are boycotting the hearing and will refuse any payment from the UK’s biggest private health insurer and care provider. The reason? The careworkers say that though the tribunal found in their favour, it so diluted or ignored serious allegations and evidence that neither they – nor the vulnerable elderly people they sought to protect – have received justice, and they are challenging the tribunal’s decision in court.

The care workers are outraged that Bupa continued to employ the woman at the centre of the abuse against the subsequent advice of social services inspectors, at one stage trying to conceal the fact from them that she was working at a different vulnerable old people’s home. Bupa also promoted another, who is to face further allegations from the daughter of a resident who has recently been removed from the home.

The whistleblowers allege that Bupa has effectively been let off the hook.

They catalogued a series of abuse which went unchecked for nearly a year up to April 1999 within unit three at Isard House, which houses the most mentally and physically frail. Many suffer dementia, are unable to voice their concerns or needs and are dependent on carers for their most basic daily needs. They were hit, roughly handled, shouted and sworn at, goaded and verbally humiliated. They were left to lie or sit in their soiled clothing for to 18 hours. One developed dreadful sores. One man, R.H., had to search for staff on other units to change his catheter bag, which was overflowing and causing him immense pain.

In one of the worst examples a woman, D.H., who had not been given laxatives, was found to have an impacted bowel. She was taken to hospital but never recovered from pneumonia. Another was so overdosed on the tranquiliser Largactil she became unconscious.

Some of the staff had been regularly reporting concerns of cruelty and neglect to senior managers at the home and had been assured matters would be dealt with. In particular they were concerned that the unit’s team leader had bizarrely taken up residence in the unit, and seemed to control and encourage its punitive and cruel culture.

One of the whistleblowers, Eileen Chubb, was assured that evidence was being gathered in order to deal with this woman. When it became evident that nothing was happening and that the neglect was continuing unchecked, she and another worker, Karen Hook, went to Bromley social service inspectors.

An inquiry was launched and police were called in; but, partly because of the lapse of time and the difficulties of interviewing mentally and physically helpless old people, criminal charges were not considered. Once word spread around the home that complaints had been made and the team leader at the centre temporarily suspended, however, the whistleblowers say they were ostracised and bullied by other staff. They went off sick with stress. Shortly after they had a meeting with Mr Kelly in which they detailed their catalogue of concern and upon which they were convinced he would act.

Er … except that as their later industrial tribunal, lawyers for Bupa maintained that not only were the whistleblowers’ complaints unfounded, but they knew them to be false – ignoring the fact that they were risking their jobs when they went to social services.

Bupa maintained this defence despite a damning report into the home produced by Bromley’s inspection team. After a long investigation it described how the team leader had effectively moved into the home, using it “inappropriately for her recreational purposes” and how she was “primarily responsible for allowing the climate of abuses and neglectful behaviour to exist unchecked”.

It also detailed a string of incidents – ranging from wiping a resident’s face with a flannel with faecal material on it; inappropriate restraint of residents causing bruising; residents left in urine-soaked clothing; dosing patients with sedatives “for which there is no evidence of GP authorisation” and not giving them laxatives “with the possible outcome of distress and discomfort and indicating a disregard of residents’ needs.”

It concluded: “there are a significant number of witnesses amongst care staff, relatives and others who have been interviewed and who corroborate the original allegations … inappropriate behaviour towards them did occur in the manner suggested by the witnesses who have come forward and those subsequently interviewed.”

It condemned the lack of skilled staff on the unit, the long hours they worked and recommended a full investigation with appropriate disciplinary action. It is understood that because the inquiry team found that the abuse and failures were confined to unit three, and the bulk of the other residents in the home were well cared for, there was no recommendation to shut Isard House down because it would have caused too much distress to many residents who were settled and content. The aim was to clean up the act on unit three.

But at the tribunal the findings of the inspectorate were also challenged by Bupa. According to the tribunal findings, Mr Kelly had conducted disciplinary hearings against four staff named in the report – and in particular against the team leader. He found her explanations to be “entirely reasonable” . According to the tribunal report, Mr Kelly decided there was nothing in her response which he felt would constitute gross misconduct.

Despite its assertions at the tribunal, Bupa’s Claire Cater told the Eye it accepted there were issues that were wrong on unit three and steps were taken to correct them, including the immediate suspension of the team leader. “The issue has always been to what degree,” she said. “The inspection was long and drawn out and unhelpful. We did not get the witness statements for 14 months. Our own internal investigations revealed two different groups of people saying very different things. We went through everything and where we found things were far from ideal – for example with the regime for administering and recording drugs – we acted.”

She said Bupa’s job had also been made more difficult because of the “inconsistencies” in the statements of the whistleblowers. Some of the more serious allegations, regarding the safety of clients, had not been made in their original statements to inspectors but had come a year later. Bupa had a duty to test these inconsistencies to find out exactly what had happened, she said. The tribunal had found there had been some “exaggeration” in a few of the allegations, although it accepted they had been made in good faith.

She said the social services report indicated that the team leader should be demoted and retrained, but not dismissed. (However, a statement from Richard Turner of the inspectorate team says he contacted Mr Kelly at his home and by phone when he heard the woman was to be re-employed saying “it was unacceptable firstly because she was on bail with regard to allegations of theft and secondly that in our view she was implicated in both abuse and neglectful behaviour”.)

Bupa admits that staff member at one of the homes had panicked and tried to hide the fact that she had been re-deployed by tippexing her out of the rota. The inspectorate said: “The issue of tampering with records reflected on the fitness of senior Bupa managers and that employer her in a another home for the mentally elderly infirm was a ‘breach of statutory regulations’.

According to the whistleblowers, it was this woman’s reinstatement which led them finally to resign. The employment tribunal rejected this claim, suggesting that a six-week delay between learning of her reemployment and quitting their jobs meant it could not be the “final straw” as they protested. However, this was one of several tribunal findings that the whistleblowers hope to challenge. They maintain the delay came because they hoped Bromley social services inspectors would intervene as they had before.

What concerned the whistleblowers most was that while the tribunal found it credible “that incontinent residents might not be changed quickly and a culture had built up of not changing residents promptly”, the tribunal did not find it credible that residents would be neglected to the extent that they became “filthy and sore”. Yet the whistleblowers have the care plan of one resident showing that she had a sore which went through to the bone.

In another instance the tribunal accepted that while drugs sheets revealed that medication may not have been properly administered and/or the recording was deficient, it ignored evidence suggesting records may also have been falsified. (The Eye has several examples of drug sheets, indicating they have been fabricated.)

The seven whistleblowers have asked the lord chancellor’s department to investigate their claim that dozens of pieces of evidence presented to the tribunal – in particular the evidence other independent witnesses – have been overlooked. They have also filed for judicial review alleging bias and misconduct on the part of the tribunal, saying they did not get a fair hearing. It could be argued that it is not the role of an industrial tribunal to uncover levels of abuse. However, once Bupa decided to brand the whistleblowers as liars, they maintain the tribunal should have evaluated all the evidence. hence their decision not to attend and to try to block the compensation hearing. Eileen Chubb told the Eye: “We cannot fathom why Bupa would want to continue to employ abusers. We went to court firstly for a declaration of the truth of what was going on in that home – and secondly for compensation. We will not accept compensation if the price to be paid is the truth.”

As a result of events in Isard House, she and Karen Hook have now set up the non-profit making Compassion in Care, which will publish a handbook for families on what to look for in a care home and how to keep elderly relatives safe. They fund it by working as office cleaners at night. But some good may yet come of the tribunal hearing. As a result of its scrutiny of drug and medical records, Kent police have been re-examining the drug sheets and it is understood a file has been sent to the DPP.

What is of concern is not just the poor standard of care and abuse of the residents at the care home, but the fact that BUPA appeared more concerned with its reputation and discrediting the whistleblowers than in improving the standards in the home. It should also be a matter of real concern that BUPA’s director, Des Kelly, was advising the government’s health policy at the time the abuse was occurring, and was involved in an attempts to cover up the abuse and discredit the whistleblowers.

The Eye subsequently published many more stories of abuse and neglect at care homes, and there will be more still if the government goes ahead to privatise and deregulate the NHS and care homes still further.

In Private Eye this Fortnight: A4E Using Untrained Advisers Working with the Disabled

January 7, 2015

In the ‘In the Back’ section of this fortnight’s Private Eye, 9th-22nd January 2015, is the piece ‘Welfare Gap’. This reports the claims made by a former employee and whistleblower, Chris Loder, at an employment tribunal in Manchester, that the ‘welfare to work’ provider is using untrained or inexperienced personnel to deal with claimants with a variety of mental and emotional problems, such as the mentally ill, those with learning difficulties and people who are drug or alcohol dependent. According to Loder, he was recruited by A4E to work helping unemployed people find jobs in 2012. In February 2014, the Blackpool office started using untrained advisers to deal with clients with the above problems.

The article quotes Jessica Pilling, a former ministerial adviser with 14 years’ experience of working with the disabled, stating her concerns about the companies’ policy. She says, ‘The approach that you take with somebody with mental health problems when coaching them into work is not the same as someone without, and it’s incredibly dangerous to think it is’.

A4E, as might be expected, deny the charge, stating that its staff complete ‘safeguarding training’ and ‘have access to a dedicated safeguarding team’. It also claims to work with specialist partners so that customers are given extra individual support according to their personal needs.

I have to say, I’m highly sceptical of A4E’s claims. As many left-wing bloggers like Tom Pride and Johnny Void have pointed out, so much of the welfare to work strategy pursued by ATOS and now Maximus is basically pseudo-scientific, self-help woo. It’s stuff concocted by the type of alleged experts, who fill the government’s Nudge Unit, largely drawn from the rubbish now filling the self-help shelves of booksellers like Waterstones. It’s a train wreck waiting to happen. Not that this will deter the coalition, who are little more than hucksters ready to peddle any old rubbish, so long as they make a massive profit out of it.