Ambulance trust whistleblower ‘bullied, harassed and blackmailed’, MPs told

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

Labour’s Grahame Morris added that 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 (NEAS).

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.

MP for Easington 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.

“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.”

NEAS chief executive Helen Ray has previously offered an apology to the families for the distress caused to them and highlighted reviews which have taken place into “historical failings”.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2022, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Stefan Rousseau / PA.