KPMG audit 'failed to address' patient data problems, claims former nurse

A whistleblower who raised concerns about a health service database said an audit by an independent body did not address her worries

A whistleblower who raised concerns about a health service database said an audit by an independent body did not address her worries.

Bernadette Rochford (pictured) told her employer Southwark Primary Care Trust – now Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – that she was worried about problems with incomplete details of patient data on the TCM database.

Her concerns were dealt with through whistleblowing and grievance procedures.

She is taking Southwark CCG to employment tribunal, claiming constructive dismissal.

She alleged that she suffered harassment and bullying. She lost a previous employment tribunal where she claimed she had been subject to racism.

She told an employment tribunal in Croydon today (14 May 2015) that: “In my previous years working at Southwark I was not treated in this way.”

Rochford claimed KPMG had not been asked to audit the old TCM database, but instead had been asked to look at the new database which replaced it.

Christopher Edwards, a lawyer representing Southwark CCG, asked: “Would it not be more important to go and review the new database rather than going back and seeing just the old database?”

In response, Rochford said: “Would you say that at Mid Staffs? With respect, that’s how I would view the situation.”

She said initially she was told she could do the audit, but was later informed that KPMG would carry it out. 

“When I was questioning the reports coming back from KPMG, I did not have any response. I felt it was a concealment or misdirection,” she said.

Rochford, who worked as a continuing care commissioner, said she felt the decision not to ask KPMG to audit the TCM database she had concerns about masked the public interest disclosure.

Judge Christiana Hyde told her the tribunal could only decide if she had been treated “unfavourably” because of the disclosure.

In her submission, Rochford had also complained that she did not have access to certain documents, including emails relating to patient records and documents relating to the employment tribunal, after she returned from sick leave. The tribunal heard the IT system was being changed and old data was in the process of being archived.

“I had emails that we would deal with that are put into a PDF file and put onto a patient's file.”

Edwards asked her if the change happened to everyone’s IT. Rochford agreed it had.

She accepted that South London’s commissioning support unit said it would cost £34,000 to retrieve her documents.

She told the tribunal: “I was scared if I lost patients’ information, if there was anything on my part, they would come after me.”

Responding to cross-examination by Edwards, she admitted she had told Gwen Kennedy, the interim director of client group commissioning at Southwark’s business support unit – now director of quality and safety – at a meeting that she needed “a mental health assessment”.

Rochford said: “It was not my finest moment.”

She said she apologised and commented that she was disappointed Kennedy had not raised the issue at two subsequent meetings, but it had been documented.

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