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Friday, 29 August 2014

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NHS Trust apologises for ‘offence’ over emails

AN investigation into allegations that a senior employee at a health trust attempted to influence a coroner has concluded.

A statement issued by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust said specific allegations raised have been independently investigated and were found “not to be substantiated’’.

The trust added that it was “a highly regrettable issue” and added that lessons have been learnt by the organisation around how internal communications can be perceived when shared externally and out of the original context.

The senior member of staff is believed to be head of legal services, Ranu Rowan.

Ms Rowan was suspended after extracts of an internal trust email were made public by the mother of Alex Davey Brady, who was stillborn at Furness General Hospital in Barrow in 2008.

Liza Brady obtained a number of documents relating to her son’s death under data protection legislation.

In one email, Ranu Rowan wrote to Tony Halsall, the then chief executive.

The email, written in 2009, was to ensure Mr Halsall was happy with a letter being sent to South Cumbria coroner Ian Smith “in the hope it may nudge him away from holding an inquest, as we discussed”.

Another memo from Mrs Rowan to Mr Halsall suggested trust staff “briefed” witnesses ahead of inquests and were concerned about bad publicity.

Ms Rowan was suspended in September by the trust to allow an investigation into the emails.

Two midwives at Furness Generla Hospital were also suspended at the same time over an unrelated matter.

In a statement issued yesterday, David Wilkinson, director of workforce and organisational development at UHMBT, said: “The specific allegations raised have been independently investigated and were found not to be substantiated.

“There are clearly significant learning lessons for the organisation around how internal communications can be perceived when shared externally and out of the original context.

“This was a highly regrettable issue and the trust has been in communication with the families involved.

“I personally, and on behalf of the trust, offer my sincere apologies for any additional offence caused.”

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