Speaking out

Former paediatrician David Drew lifts the lid on his time at the NHS.


Staff feeling afraid to report concerns was a common grievance noted in recent inquiries into the NHS. David Drew’s account of his experience when he spoke out goes a long way to explain their fears.

The first few chapters of the book describe Drew’s family background and medical training. Although this helps to explain the stance he took as a whistleblower, the more interesting part of his story begins when he raised concerns about catastrophic failures, abysmal patient care, understaffing and managerial bullying at Walsall Manor Hospital where he worked as a consultant paediatrician.

The hospital management’s shocking reaction was to accuse Drew of a variety of unsubstantiated wrongdoings, question his mental health and reprimand him for expressing his Christian values at work. Drew writes in detail about his religious views but this detracts from the vivid descriptions he gives of his struggle to improve patient care.

What makes the book worth reading is its detailed insight into the way hospital managers altered reports, diverted criticism of themselves, covered up investigations — including a root cause analysis into the death of a 16-month-old child unlawfully killed following catastrophic failures in basic safeguarding at the hospital — and orchestrated the disciplinary procedures which led to Drew’s dismissal and the end of his career.

Drew’s refusal of a substantial payoff and gagging order allowed him to make his experiences public. In light of continuing reports of a system that appears to be more concerned with protecting reputations than patients, his story rings horribly true.

Publication date: 28 September 2014


Little Stories of Life and Death @ NHS Whistleblowr’ by David Drew. Pp xii+340. Price £10.99. Leicestershire: Matador imprint of Troubadour Publishing Ltd; 2014. ISBN 978 1 78306 523 3

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 13 September 2014, Vol 293, No 7827;293(7827):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20065754

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