A WHISTLEBLOWER who was “bullied, harassed and blackmailed” is facing the sack after he raised allegations about an ambulance trust covering up evidence of mistakes by paramedics, MPs have heard.

Paul Calvert was offered £41,000 “on condition of his silence in destroying the evidence he has of wrongdoing” linked to North East Ambulance Service, Easington MP Grahame Morris has said

Health Secretary Sajid Javid expressed concern after the matter was raised in the House of Commons and again indicated the trust faces a “much broader powerful review”.

NEAS has been accused of covering up evidence about deaths linked to mistakes made by paramedics.

The Sunday Times reported that concerns were raised about more than 90 cases, with the paper saying whistleblowers believed NEAS had prevented relatives from knowing the full details about how their loved ones died in 2018 and 2019.

The paper said Mr Calvert, a coroner’s officer whose job was to produce reports on deaths, tried to raise concerns for three years before walking out last year on the verge of a breakdown.

The Northern Echo: Easington MP Grahame Morris Easington MP Grahame Morris

Mr Morris, speaking as the Commons considered a major review into NHS leadership by Sir Gordon Messenger, said: “The Secretary of State said we must only accept the highest standards and act where standards fall short.

“My constituent, Paul Calvert, bravely exposed the North East Ambulance Service’s management failures, and indeed criminal negligence, of cover-ups of patient deaths.

“Mr Calvert – who gave me his permission to raise his case, I met with him in person last week – is being bullied, harassed, blackmailed but he still refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

“They offered him £41,000 on condition of his silence in destroying the evidence he has of wrongdoing.

“Tomorrow we anticipate his employment is going to be terminated.”

The Northern Echo: Tracey Beadle. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT Tracey Beadle. Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

One of the cases highlighted was that of 17-year-old Quinn Beadle, from Shildon, who took her own life three-and-a-half years ago.

Her mother, Tracey, who said she was ‘horrified’ by the widespread nature of the allegations has since called for a full investigation.

Mr Morris said: “Mr Calvert and grieving families want a public inquiry into North East Ambulance Service.

“Does the Health Secretary agree and will he outline how the Messenger review will protect NHS whistleblowers, like my constituent Mr Calvert?”

Mr Javid said a health minister will meet with some of the families affected and is also keen to meet Mr Calvert.

He added: “I’m very concerned about what I’ve heard about this ambulance service, as (Mr Morris) is and I’m sure the whole House is, and I’m not satisfied with the review that has been done already and I do think that we need a much broader powerful review, and I will be having more to say on this very shortly.”

In Quinn’s case, crucial information from her final moments was withheld by the paramedic who treated her, including the reading from a monitor showing heart activity.

North East Ambulance Service was found to have amended a statement given to the coroner at her first inquest in April 2019, removing references to mistakes the paramedic had made, such as failing to clear her airways, and adding claims that life support would ‘not have had a positive outcome’.

 

The Northern Echo: Quinn Beadle. Picture: FAMILY HANDOUT Quinn Beadle. Picture: FAMILY HANDOUT

NEAS chief executive Helen Ray said: “Utmost in our mind are the families affected and we unreservedly apologise for the distress we have caused to them.

“We had a number of issues, dating back to 2019, which meant we needed to fully review and revise our reporting mechanisms.

“When concerns were raised, we acted. The findings of independent reviews that we commissioned reported that we had issues with our governance and process, but there was no evidence that information was being withheld.

 “We fully accepted the findings of these reviews, and a task group was established to ensure full disclosure to coroners of any historical reports and a change to the process in place for dealing with future disclosures.

“Claims made that we continue to fail in respect of disclosure are incorrect.

“We have reaudited our process, worked with coroners and with the CQC.

“We are confident that the system in place now is robust.”

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