In my last two posts I wrote about dangerous practice on mental health units here and here. I said I should have reported the poor practices within my NHS Mental Health Trust to the media. I wish I’d had the courage to report my concerns outside the Trust — but the bullies stopped me!
The RCN says “Knowing if a situation should be raised as a concern can be difficult. Ask yourself whether it has caused harm or distress, or, if you let it continue, is it likely to result in harm or distress?“
And the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Code is also clear: “you must act without delay if you believe there is a risk to patient safety or public protection.“
All Trusts must have policies in place for such things as ‘Raising concerns’ or ‘Whistleblowing’ and they must state how they will support you through the process. While our Trust did have this policy, the processes were never followed through and my concerns weren’t dealt with appropriately.
Disturbingly, I had several concerns dismissed after going through the correct channels. And after verbally reporting many incidents of poor practice by my manager, I was sent to mediation with him. We were to be seen by a Consultant Psychologist (Sue) for ten one hour sessions to “sort out our differences.”
Staff mediation in my NHS Mental Health Trust
I should have walked out after the first session but I was intrigued to see where this mediation process would go. I could see the look of horror (she tried to hide it) on Sue’s face as I recounted how Perry had given out unauthorised antipsychotics.
She coughed almost embarrassed and asked him to reflect on the situation, sharing how he would do things differently the next time.
I would have laughed out loud if it wasn’t so serious. And this is how mediation continued.
Sue also raised her eyebrows at me when Perry told her I let a junior co-worker (Mal) live in my home for a short period of time. I explained how nurses and health care workers are known to flat-share and that there are no regulations to the contrary.
Manager propositioned junior staff
But Perry wouldn’t let up. He continued along the lines that it showed favouritism and that I was splitting the team….. Oh dear! He’s digging a deep hole…..
I explained how Mal had been propositioned by Perry many times and was afraid because Perry was using blackmail to get him to engage in a relationship with him. Perry was threatening to tell the team about our Mal’s confidences that he’d shared when he was an in-patient on Perry’s previous ward.
I continued with how Mal didn’t feel comfortable living in his own home because Perry was near-stalking and bullying him. Sue’s eyes were on sticks, and it was clear she wasn’t sure what to say.
During each mediation session, I was enabled to share all my concerns about Perry under Sue’s inquisitive and watchful eye. He’d put me in this damn situation, and now it was payback. I admit, I enjoyed watching him squirm and redden as I explained each incident of his poor practice.
The only good thing I know is that she would have discussed how wrong it all was with the Director who I’d complaint to. But I still wonder, why didn’t our Director or this Senior Psychologist deal with my concerns appropriately? They ought to have thrown the book at Perry. The guy was a maniac and they were allowing his behaviours to continue.
Senior nurse sleeping with junior staff
At almost the end of our penultimate session Perry chose to disclose a concern of his. He puffed out his chest, grinning like he’d just won the lottery and stuttering with excitement said to me “Kwami (another junior coworker) said that you and him were sleeping together. It’s not good as it shows favouritism within the team.”
“Okay, well I’ll sleep with all of them shall I?” I thought, and almost laughed, “Will that even it out?”
More raised eyebrows as Sue turned to me and said “I know this must be difficult for you and I can sense some incongruence. You’re smiling but I’m sure you’re angry. I’m sorry but this is the end of the session, can you hold onto this until next week?”
“I am angry but yes, I’ll hold it ’til next week.” I smiled as I stood and left, not before noticing Perry’s excited nod and grin at Sue. We both returned to the ward, Perry obviously pleased with himself, and I happily got on with the day.
Oh, I’m angry
Later that evening I invited Kwami round for supper with me, my partner, my parents, and my two adult sons. Over dinner I asked him “Did you ever, even in jest, tell Perry that you and I were sleeping together? Even if you said it in fun, just tell me.” Everyone almost choked on their dinners and stared wide eyed at Kwami.
“No way! Why would I say something like that? You’re all like family to me, you’ve fed me, invited me to family parties. No, I did not say it. Ever!” Again, later in the kitchen and alone, I said I wouldn’t be angry if he told me the truth, but just to tell me. “No. I give you my word.”
Next mediation session I sailed in happily and Sue started “Look, I know we had to end the last session at an awkward moment and that you must have been angry. How do you feel now?”
“Oh, I’m angry…….” I nodded.
“Yes, I’m sure you’re very angry with Kwami,” Sue appeased, and Perry sat there arms folded, all chuffed with himself.
“I am angry, my partner, my parents, and my sons are angry too. But not with Kwami,” I replied, turning towards Perry, “It’s you we’re all angry with. Kwami said no such thing to you. What is wrong with you?” I told him about the open conversation I’d had with Kwami…….
He reddened ‘cos he knew he’d been caught out and he spluttered….. “Well, it wasn’t Kwami, it…. it was someone else that told me and I’m not going to name any more names……” I knew all I had to do was wait………
Time for a formal written complaint
Then, as expected, he showed his true colours — raging, “Anyway, mediation. is. private. and. personal. between. us. It’s not supposed to leave this room. You shouldn’t have told anyone else what’s been talked about.”
Sue tried and tried to stop him as he yelled and counted on his fingers – 1) How I had no right talking about this, 2) how he’s putting in a complaint about me breaching confidentiality rules, and 3) having me moved to another ward…….
I just shook my head, stood and told Sue I wouldn’t be returning for the final session as there was obviously no point. I smiled, relieved that it was all over, and returned to the ward to call the Director.
This time I was putting in a formal written complaint about Perry’s behaviour and about every single incident of poor practice. I’m glad I had everything neatly filed away, safe — at home.
Over to you
I’m really interested to hear your thoughts on the situation. Would you put in a written complaint? I’ll let you know what happened in my next post. In the meantime, I hope you’re all staying safe, happy and well under the current restrictions.
While I’ll never actually be physically well, I feel relatively stable mentally and all’s good at this end. Had a sneaky visit (with masks) to watch our gorgeous grandchildren in the park this weekend. What a treat.