NHS tribunal clears Panorama whistleblower

A nurse who filmed undercover for a Panorama documentary in July 2005 has won backing at a disciplinary hearing held by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Margaret Haywood, 58, exposed failures in the care of elderly patients at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

The panel said there was no evidence that Haywood had broken the NHS Trust’s whistleblowing policy by raising “serious concerns” in the media.

Haywood raised concerns about issues such as feeding and hydrating elderly patients, drawing up care plans and administration of pain relief.

Panel chairman Linda Read said: “The failure to deliver basic nursing care to these patients, many of whom were in the last stages of their lives, rendered many of their lives miserable.

“It was so serious especially because it was so fundamental. There was a failure to meet basic human needs.

“The panel does not therefore find that there was any or sufficient evidence upon which it could conclude that there was any reason why she should not report her concerns externally.”

Haywood said in evidence that she “was appalled, broken-hearted in fact… about the poor care standards, about the lack of leadership on the ward” at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.

She said: “It was neglect we were talking about. I didn’t think anybody would actually believe what was going on without the proof to support it.”

The hearing continues.

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