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Concerns raised by former senior GHA doctor ‘cannot be brushed away’, GSD says

St Bernard's Hospital. Photo by Eyleen Gomez

The GSD has again called for an “immediate and independent” investigation into allegations by the former Head of Clinical Governance at the Gibraltar Health Authority that healthcare management in Gibraltar has collapsed, putting patient safety at risk.

In a statement, that party said the issues raised by Professor Derek Burke “cannot be simply brushed away”.

The GSD was reacting after Professor Burke sent a series of emails to former colleagues describing a “toxic environment” at the GHA that was hindering efforts to improve patient safety.

In the emails, he alleged that “a cabal” of individuals was looking after its own interests and holding both the government and Unite the Union “to ransom”, rendering the management structure ineffective.

Professor Burke, whose emails are supported by images and documents including correspondence with officials and ministers, has now initiated legal claims against the GHA in the Employment Tribunal.

The Gibraltar Government has said it will “strenuously” defend those claims but will not comment further given the ongoing legal process.

For its part, in an email to it GHA members and other staff, Unite National Officer Stuart Davies dismissed Professor Burke’s allegations “fantastical” and “baseless”.

But the GSD said the government’s position that the issue was sub judice was “lame” and that the allegations raised by Professor Burke, a seasoned professional with decades of experience in hospital management, will not go away.

The GSD said the proceedings in the Employment Tribunal – “whatever they are” – could not substitute an independent investigation.

The Employment Tribunal, it added, was not the proper place for an investigation into allegations of a clinical nature which may have impacted on patients.

In his role as Head of Clinical Governance, Professor Burke was intimately involved in patient safety.

“The allegations cannot be simply brushed away without providing the public with a serious degree of reassurance as the provision of health services to our community,” the GSD said.

“This issue is too important to lie like this and will be of concern to the public. It needs to be dealt with decisively by an independent investigation.”

Elliott Phillips, the GSD’s Shadow Minister for Health, said the party would continue to press for an investigation into the claims.

“The Opposition will not rest until the allegations are fully and independently investigated,” he said.
“Any delay by the Government in relation to the allegations will not be tolerated by the people of our community.”

“The Opposition will pursue this matter inside and outside parliament.”

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