Apology from Healthcare Improvement Scotland

On the 30th January 2015 an apology was received from the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Scrutiny & Assurance for Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

Here is my reply of thanks:


To: Robbie Pearson
Deputy Chief Executive
Director of Scrutiny & Assurance
Healthcare Improvement Scotland
Gyle Square
1 South Gyle Crescent
Edinburgh, EH12 9EB

Dear Mr Pearson,
Re: Letter to Mrs Muirhead, 29 January 2015
I wanted to write to thank you for copying me into your response letter to Mrs Muirhead dated 29th January 2015. I note that Healthcare Improvement Scottland (HIS) have upheld the complaint. I want to thank you for  apologising for “this incident.” It does make a difference to hear this. I am relieved to hear that Healthcare Improvement Scotland “are reviewing [your] social media guidance to strengthen understanding, and to ensure that it is consistently complied with across the organisation.”

I hope you will understand, as discussed with Richard Norris recently in Stirling, that I do not wish to spend time going over past communications from employees of Healthcare Improvement Scotland. This just reminds me of the distress caused to me and indeed the significant consequences for my career. I want to say that I found Mr Norris most kind and professional and that our conversation allowed us to reflect more widely on ways forward in terms of the place of critical voices in improvement work.

Mrs Muirhead is a friend of mine. Like me, Mrs Muirhead is of the view that scientific understanding and progress in care benefits from questioning. It is disappointing that we have experienced mischaracterisation and marginalisation from your organisation as a result, particularly when HIS widely promotes its “inclusive engagement”.

I understand the behaviour of Ms Goudie as being based on her enthusiasm for improving care. My experience has been that there is a persistent stream of social media postings by both individuals associated with HIS and the organisation itself. These obviously focus on the successes of the work done by the organisation but in my view rarely cover the downsides. When I have responded to HIS tweets to raise any concerns about potential harms to patients I have had replies such as “this is for interested clinicians only”. I later found out that a letter had also been sent by HIS to my employers.

In summary, as said to Richard Norris, I am sorry if anybody has been upset by my writings on delirium, science and ethics. I would urge HIS as an organisation to consider how it “engages” with questioning voices. The responses of certain HIS staff to any questioning have been instrumental in breaking my career as a respected and highly valued Consultant in NHS Scotland. I have also decided, as a result of my experiences with HIS, that I no longer feel safe to use social media as an employee of NHS Scotland. I do however maintain a blog and will be posting my reply to you on this. I would respectfully suggest that any revised social media guidance within HIS should include a section on expecting responses which will not always be in full agreement with the original post.

I want to thank you again for looking into this matter and for the apology on behalf of Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

Yours sincerely,
Dr Peter J. Gordon




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