An NHS hospital has been accused of failing to properly investigate the deaths of two babies and then covering up a CEO’s leadership failures.
Dr Max Mclean, the chairman of Bradford Teaching Hospitals trust, has quit in protest over the handling of the scandal and alleged failings of the trust’s chief executive Professor Mel Pickup – after no action was taken over concerns about her performance.
The largest concern relates to delays in investigating three major neonatal incidents that happened over the course of 12 days in April 2021, involving the deaths of two newborn babies and a third baby with a permanent disability, according to The Times.
The three incidents share similar concerns, such as worries over infection prevention and control.
Newborn deaths should be investigated within 60 days, under national guidelines, but each investigation instead took 14 months, The Times reported.
Dr Max Mclean, the chairman of Bradford Teaching Hospitals trust, has quit in protest over concerns about the performance of the trust’s chief executive
Professor Mel Pickup (pictured), the trust’s chief executive, has been in post since 2019
One family who lost their three-day-old baby were handed a compensation payout but the trust, it was reported.
In his resignation letter, Mr Mclean said he ‘cannot, in good conscience, work with a CEO who has fallen so short of the standards expected of her role that there is a genuine safety risk to patients and colleagues’.
Mr Mclean has written to the head of NHS England to voice his concerns about Pickup, who has been in post since 2019.
Mclean told The Times: ‘Patients are at risk, babies are at risk, and there could be avoidable deaths unless there is a change of leadership.’
He raised nine major issues about Pickup’s performance, which he claimed were confirmed by an investigation that ended in September.
The largest concern relates to delays in investigating three major neonatal incidents that happened over the course of 12 days in April 2021, involving the deaths of two newborn babies. Pictured: Bradford Teaching Hospitals trust
Mcclean was left with ‘no option’ but to resign after the trust’s board met on October 2 and decided there would be no further action against Pickup.
He said: ‘There are absolute analogies here with the Lucy Letby case, in terms of information not being shared. There was an ethos of internal protection not infant safety.’
A spokesperson for Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust told MailOnline: ‘Following an independent review into concerns raised by both the former Chair and by the Trust’s Chief Executive, it was determined that the Trust’s Chief Executive has not fallen short of the expected standards for the role.
‘No findings in the outcome of the report were made that the Chief Executive’s actions or inactions could reasonably be seen to breach the Nolan principles which govern behaviour in a public office. The report did not recommend escalation to external regulators.
‘The Trust takes all concerns regarding patient and staff safety extremely seriously and conducts thorough investigations when necessary. This includes the Trust Board being updated on the progress of reviews and continuing to consider any recommendations, whilst considering learning. The independent review did recommend further discussions, to improve working relationships, but the former Chair declined to participate and resigned with immediate effect. The CEO continues to have the full support of the Board.
‘The Trust stressed the importance of moving forward to ensure the best possible care for patients in a supportive working environment.’
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