The British Medical Association is calling for a UK-led public inquiry into the way in which the Isle of Man’s Government and Health Service handled the case of Rosalind Ranson.

Dr Ranson was the island’s former medical director.

A year ago, an employment tribunal ruled she had been unfairly dismissed for whistle-blowing and she was recently awarded £3.2m.

Her tribunal said she was subjected to ‘humiliation, bullying, harassment and vilification’ and dismissed after she raised a number of serious concerns.

Dr Ranson was awarded sums for aggravated and exemplary damages, both of which are exceptionally rare, the BMA says.

These awards were made due to the Department of Health and Social Care’s ‘high handed, malicious, insulting and oppressive manner’ during the course of the litigation and were ‘warranted for [their] oppressive, arbitrary and unconstitutional behaviour’.

Professor Philip Banfield
Professor Philip Banfield (Sam Turton)

The BMA’s chair of council, Professor Philip Banfield, recently visited the island as guest of members of the Medical Society and to meet with Dr Ranson.

Then last week, the Health Minister, Lawrie Hooper, wrote to Professor Banfield expressing ‘concern’ at the issues he raised during the visit and that in media interviews, Professor Banfield painted a picture in relation to culture on the island that, ‘is at odds with the outcomes from the recent independent inspections undertaken by the CQC and contained within their reports’.

Mr Hooper asked why the BMA had not raised concerns directly with the island’s government.

Now in a letter to the minister, Professor Banfield says that the BMA’s concerns about the handling of the case and feedback from doctors in Manx Healthcare, will be raised with the UK’s Minister responsible for Crown Dependencies.

Professor Banfield said: ‘Given the litany of serious failings of the DHSC and the wider Manx government, why would the island’s health minister not want these issues considered by the minister with overall responsibility?

‘The BMA understands that a process has been set up by Tynwald to investigate some of these failings, however our concern is the scope and independence of this process and the provisions available to it.

‘As it stands the committee cannot compel witnesses to give evidence, an extraordinary omission given the seriousness of the allegations.

‘In my view, the only possible way forward is a UK-led public inquiry, with powers commensurate to the significance of the situation to the people of the Isle of Man, able to independently hold those responsible to account and consider the wider systemic factors.’

Lawrie Hooper, Minister for Health and Social Care -

The letter to Mr Hooper goes on to say that the recently-published CQC reports state staff do not always feel confident in raising concerns and that the minister’s conclusions are at odds with the experiences of many of those dedicated medical professionals who care for the patients on the island.

It says that the results of the Culture of Care Barometer survey developed by King’s College and NHS England point to issues with the work culture, and the treatment of four anaesthetists charged with gross negligence manslaughter outside of due process, with all charges now dropped, again points to a culture which is anything but open and inclusive.

Professor Banfield is planning to return to the Isle of Man in the coming weeks and will be seeking a meeting with senior members of the government and further meetings with health professionals.