NHS COVER-UP: Deputy FM John Swinney accuses NHS Grampian of damaging medical providers – seeks action from Health Secretary on report detailing how NHS Grampian Executives & staff deliberately targeted & discredited medical companies to cover-up Procurement Fraud & Patient Safety risks

01 Dec

Health Sec. must act on NHS Grampian – John Swinney. SCOTLAND’S Deputy First Minister has demanded action from the Health Secretary on a report containing evidence of a malicious campaign carried out by named NHS Grampian Executives and staff who targeted medical companies to remove their business, hand the same contracts to former colleagues in the NHS, and cover-up their own use of untested chemicals on hundreds of patients.

The report – sent by John Swinney to Health Secretary Humza Yousaf with a written demand for action – quotes references from the probe of how NHS Grampian Executives and staff colluded in a discrediting campaign against medical providers to switch their business to other companies & colleagues.

Mr Swinney’s letter highlights conclusive findings which state: ”In investigating, it appears that from June 2018 there has been an unnecessary need to engage with Wassenburg as the preferred contractor of choice and that need has created some poor decision making including what appears to be discrediting MDUK to meet that need.”

Since early 2021, journalists have been examining the evidence in relation to the NHS Grampian scandal, submitting several FOI requests to obtain disclosure on events around procurement corruption, unlawful removing of contracts from certain medical providers and handing their business to former NHS employees, and a wider range of allegations of corruption around several individuals at NHS Grampian.

Some of the information obtained by journalists examining this case, and certain documents obtained via Freedom of Information and other sources, has been published on Twitter in a lengthy thread, which begins at the following link: FOI confirms NHS Grampian conducted thousands of invalidated procedures & covered-up incidents

An initial Freedom of Information request to NHS Grampian confirmed the NHS Trust has conducted thousands of invalidated procedures & covered-up the incidents- potentially putting thousands of patients’ at risk – after a whistleblower medical supplier – Medical Devices UK – reported NHS Grampian were using incorrect processes in endoscopy equipment.

A collection of documents released in response to Freedom of Information requests from journalists – detail the extent of discussions between NHS Grampian staff who were attempting to cover their tracks on using untested chemicals on patients can be found here: NHS Grampian Patient Safety Chemicals misuse probe FOI2021732

During the ongoing investigation, material was also obtained by journalists in relation to a secret internal NHS Grampian report authored by an NHS Grampian employee Mr Peter Gilchrist.

The original unredacted version of this report, which is also held by Deputy FM John Swinney – can be found here: DR GRAYS – Peter Gilchrist Report 20-12-19

Mr Gilchrist’s internal report details significant and serious wrongdoing within NHS Grampian, and goes into considerable detail on how contracts and business were removed from medical providers, accusing NHS Grampian Executives and staff of mounting a discrediting campaign against medical providers, at significant cost to taxpayers.

The report also identifies by name – NHS Grampian Executives and staff who were involved in a highly organised campaign, targeting medical providers to remove their business and hand it to former colleagues who previously worked in the NHS.

However, when journalists requested a copy of the report via Freedom of Information legislation, the version of the report released to journalists by NHS Grampian – was found to have been deliberately re-worded for FOI release – and omitted key evidence terms finding NHS Grampian Executives and Staff deliberately set out to discredit existing medical providers.

On studying the report, and further FOI material – it has become clear NHS Grampian employees were acting in a common cause – with an intention to remove business from medical providers – in this case – Medical Devices UK, and switch MDUK’s business to ‘preferred bidders’.

Further enquiries by journalists have established the ‘preferred bidders’ who were handed MDUK’s business – turned out to be former NHS employees.

Currently, the Scottish Information Commissioner is examining material and statements from journalists in relation to NHS Grampian’s re-wording of Freedom of Information disclosures.

The Scottish Information Commissioner’s office has also asked journalists if they are willing to speak to Police Scotland on this matter.

It is worth noting, this same report authored by Peter Gilchrist of NHS Grampian – in original form – was held by John Swinney for two years prior to NHS Grampian’s disclosure of a false version in late 2021

At this time, there is ongoing work by journalists in relation to this case, and further articles will appear detailing specific incidents, including NHS Executives discussing how to alter and rig evidence for presentation in the Court of Session.

Journalists are also examining material which indicates a former Cabinet Secretary for Health – Shona Robison – appeared to understand the extent to which Scottish Ministers were being deliberately misled by NHS Grampian Executives.

In a letter dated 2018 to John Swinney, the then Health Secretary Ms Robson informed Mr Swinney she backed a resolution to the affair – in which Ms Robison indicated the working relationship between NHS Grampian should be restored with reliable medical providers who had been subject to a concerted and malicious campaign by NHS Grampian Executives and staff.

And, prior to the Deputy First Minister’s demand for action on this scandal, John Swinney wrote directly to NHS Grampian in February 22, stating the actions of NHS Grampian staff had damaged the business of Medical Devices UK – damage which is backed up by evidenced material disclosed via Freedom of Information legislation.

Mr Swinney wrote: “As I have looked at a number of matters raised by Mr Donnelly, I am concerned that his business has been damaged by the unwarranted actions of some NHS Grampian personnel. I have been trying to secure satisfactory answers for some time but am frustrated by the lack of progress. Consequently, I now believe that the only appropriate way to resolve the series of issues connected with this case is through an independent investigation. I will therefore be writing to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf MSP, to raise this matter with him and to ask that such an investigation takes place.”

Journalists have this week, attempted to establish why there has not yet been a response from the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Humza Yousaf, to the Deputy First Minister’s letter of 8 March 2022.

It has since been made known Mr Swinney’s office is currently seeking a response to the Deputy First Minister’s points in relation to the actions of NHS Grampian.

DFM John Swinney’s letter to Cabinet Secretary for Health Humza Yousaf:

I write on behalf of my constituent, Mr Jason Donnelly. Mr Donnelly is the Managing Director of Medical Devices UK Ltd, a company that provides an independent testing and validation service for decontamination facilities. The company previously provided these services at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and a number of other NHS sites.

For nearly four years, I have been making representations on behalf of Mr Donnelly regarding ongoing issues his company has had with NHS Grampian. My representations have centred around my constituent’s concern that NHS Grampian was trying to discredit his company, allegations of manipulation of procurement frameworks, concerns over the transparency of NHS Grampian throughout this process and, latterly, the apparent editing of documents obtained via Freedom of Information requests.

In both September 2017 and February 2018, Medical Devices UK identified potential patient safety risks within NHS Grampian facilities due to attempted changes to the existing processes for cleaning equipment and storage of endoscopy equipment to ensure effective decontamination.

As a result of performing this contracted work and flagging the safety breaches to NHS Grampian staff, Mr Donnelly believes that senior figures within the health board have attempted to discredit his company, prevent his company from obtaining other work within NHS Scotland and ultimately blame his company for the safety breaches which were recorded as mandatory failures by NHS Grampian staff in the investigation report to MHRA.

As a result of the fallout from the incidents in September 2017 and February 2018, Mr Donnelly subsequently lost his business with NHS Grampian. This has been the cause of significant financial difficulties for my constituent’s business.

Mr Donnelly has shown me documentation that leads my constituent to believe that NHS Grampian has acted in a dishonest manner. For your convenience, I have included copies of these documents for your perusal.

Appendix 1 is an e-mail trail from May 2019 that shows a senior figure within NHS Grampian contacting NHS Tayside to warn them against using Medical Devices UK as a contractor. Several other FOI communications now reveal this was more widespread.

I have also included Appendix 2, which is an NHS Grampian Internal Report. On page 10 of this report, it reads: “In investigating, it appears that from June 2018 there has been an unnecessary need to engage with Wassenburg as the preferred contractor of choice and that need has created some poor decision making including what appears to be discrediting MDUK to meet that need.”

The above-statement from the NHS Grampian Report makes reference to Wassenburg Ltd, another company that can provide services similar to that of Medical Devices UK.

My constituent is concerned that, following the potentially malicious removal of his company’s existing three-year contract with NHS Grampian, Wassenburg were one of the companies awarded the contract by NHS Grampian to take over Medical Devices UK’s duties, allegedly without any satisfactory procedural process being followed. Mr Donnelly advises that NHS Grampian have subsequently been found to be in breach of contract.

Mr Donnelly has since obtained further material via Freedom of Information requests that contain communications between staff of National Services Scotland and NHS Grampian. Mr Donnelly states that these documents contain e-mail discussions between staff over how to ensure Medical Devices UK are not selected for any contracts, how to evade rules and the tendering process.

I have written to your two predecessors, Shona Robison MSP and Jeane Freeman, regarding my constituent’s concerns. I was grateful for their substantive responses to my correspondence, but my constituent has repeatedly stated via information obtained from FOI disclosures that the information being provided to the Scottish Government and Scottish Ministers by NHS Grampian was inaccurate and misleading. Mr Donnelly has confirmed to me that he is in possession of several pieces of evidence that prove this to be the case.

An example of NHS Grampian’s potential lack of transparency is the editing of a document obtained via Freedom of Information.

Throughout this ongoing process, Mr Donnelly has obtained a significant number of documents via FOI requests. One such document was a copy of Appendix 2, the previously- discussed internal NHS Grampian report that was sent to Mr Donnelly in 2019.

I have attached as Appendix 3 a copy of the report, which was received in 2021 by Mr Donnelly under FOI. Whilst this document should be an exact copy of the original document in Mr Donnelly’s possession, it has subsequently been edited at some point prior to being issued via FOI.

On page 10, the report now reads: ”In investigating, it appears that from June 2018 there has been an unnecessary need to engage with Wassenburg as the preferred contractor of choice and that need has created some poor decision making on the part of both and including what appears to be a clear attempt by to bring into disrepute MDUK so as to achieve a desired outcome.”

I wrote to Professor Hiscox, Chief Executive of NHS Grampian, regarding this matter in October 2021 (Appendix 4). She replied stating that the NHS Grampian Board Secretary, Sarah Duncan, would investigate this matter. I have attached Professor Hiscox’s reply with Ms Duncan’s findings as Appendix 5. As you can see, no satisfactory answer was provided as to why this document was edited.

I believe that the concerns raised by my constituent are of such a serious nature and that there are serious questions over the reliability of the information that NHS Grampian has provided and their transparency throughout this ongoing affair.

Given the protracted nature of this dispute, and the legitimate concerns over the conduct and transparency of NHS Grampian, I believe that the most appropriate way to investigate the concerns raised by my constituent would be via an independent investigation.

I am grateful for your consideration of this matter and I look forward to your reply.

Further articles and developments on this growing NHS Grampian scandal will be published in due course as material obtained by the media is studied, investigated and released to publication.


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