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14th October 2021, 20:11

Former head of Clinical Governance withdraws his claim against the GHA

The GHA's former Head of Clinical Governance, Dr Derek Burke, has withdrawn his claim against the Health Authority; the Medical Director, Dr Krishna Rawal, and Health Minister, Samantha Sacramento. The claim at the Employment Tribunal was dismissed following the withdrawal.

Dr Burke had been critical of the GHA in emails to his former colleagues there, where he denounced the Health Authority for what he said was an inadequate response to concerns raised.

The GHA had begun proceedings against Dr Burke, which has resulted in the Supreme Court granting an injunctive order against him - preventing him from disclosing any further information from his tenure in the GHA at the risk of being imprisoned or fined.

In an agreed statement published by the Government, Dr Burke has now said that the GHA has set its compass in the right direction, and is on a journey that will benefit the health and wellbeing of the people of Gibraltar.

In a series of emails to doctors at the GHA, reported on by GBC, the former Head of Clinical Governance highlighted what his team had assessed as cases of preventable deaths and other failures in care; systemic flaws in the GHA itself; and what he said was a lack of progress from the Government on the concerns raised over recent years.

In an agreed statement, the Government says in 2018, the GHA “committed to transform itself into an organisation that provides safe, high-quality, cost-effective and compassionate care”. Number Six states the Chief Minister committed to using Dr Burke's strategy as the basis of this transformation.

The Government says the transformation progrmme was interrupted in order to focus resources on COVID-19, with planning starting again once the second wave passed. The projects that have begun as part to this include the implementation of the electronic document management system, which will provide an electronic record, a patient tracking system for cancer referrals, diabetes management, and more. It adds the programme requires changes to the management structure to ensure the GHA can continue to operate while the transformation projects are running, and that this will be disruptive for some time until the new structure is embedded.

The statement says Derek Burke had health issues in late 2020 and early 2021, ending in extended sick leave until shortly before his retirement. For this reason, it says, he was not up to date with progress on areas including the electronic document system, the cardiac catheter lab, or the mental health transformation projects. The statement says his concerns were based on his assumption that nothing was being done, when the opposite is true.

The statement says Dr Burke acknowledges that the planned projects will significantly contribute to the GHA’s transformation, and make it safer for patients. It says it has been “pointed out to him” that his disclosures breached his obligations to the GHA and its patients.

In response to GBC questions, the Government confirmed that the GHA had last month begun proceedings for breach of confidence against Dr Burke in the Supreme Court, and that the court has made an order granting ‘injunctive and other relief’ against him. It says this demonstrates that the GHA acted properly in taking this action.

The order calls on Dr Burke to deliver evidence of the information he had disclosed after his retirement in July, and to deliver all the relevant documents to the GHA’s lawyers and destroy any copies he still has. The order states that Dr Burke must provide a copy of the order to anyone to whom he’s disclosed the information; and adds that not only he, but anyone notified of the order, could be imprisoned or fined for breaching it.

In the agreed statement published by the Government, Dr Burke says with the information he now has, he is satisfied that under the leadership of Samantha Sacramento as Health Minister, progress will be made in addressing the issues he identified. He also apologised if any publication of his concerns caused alarm to the public in Gibraltar.

The Chief Minister said the GHA can look forward to providing NHS standards of healthcare, with many services being repatriated to Gibraltar – describing it as an “exciting time” for the Rock.

CHIEF MINISTER ON BURKE

The Chief Minister says the former Head of Clinical Governance has withdrawn his allegations against the GHA and accepted that there should not be a repetition of these - adding no payment has been made by the Government to Dr Derek Burke.

News Editor, Christine Vasquez, had earlier asked the Chief Minister about Dr Burke's withdrawal of his claim against the Health Authority.