UROLOGIST Peter Duffy went from personal and professional devastation to runaway success as an author in 2019.

At the beginning of 2019, it appeared the surgeon’s story - a winding workplace saga that saw him lurch from being voted Furness General Hospital’s ‘Doctor of the Year’ to pariah status within the NHS - had largely drawn to a close.

Months before, an employment tribunal found that he had been unfairly dismissed by the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), seeming to conclude a long and bitter dispute - one which, besides uprooting him from his family, had threatened to crush the medic financially and psychologically.

Yet the publication of a book chronicling his experiences as a whistleblower ­­– and lifting the lid on alleged failings in UHMBT’s urology services stretching back over a decade – propelled him back into the headlines last summer.

This has, along with the failings pointed to in the book, all been documented thanks to an extensive Mail investigation by Chief Reporter Amy Fenton.

Having left family and friends and relocated to the Isle of Man in order to continue practising, Mr Duffy explains that most of what would become Whistle in the Wind was written on the Ben-my-Chree ferry, a three-and-a-half hour crossing back to Lancaster and his family.

“I’d just get out my laptop and tap out another half a chapter or so,” he says. Around three months later he already had the bare bones of a draft.

“By April time the book was more or less finished and just needed some proofreading as well as a legal opinion to make sure I didn’t leave myself wide open to any defamation claims. And then it was just a question of getting it formatted to go up onto Amazon."

UHMBT finally called an external review into its urology services last year, after the book’s revelations saw dozens of affected patients come forward to The Mail alleging appalling – and, in some cases, fatal – care.

The book has continued to resonate with readers within and beyond the Furness area, with the title chalking up some 8,000 sales since publication – numbers that Mr Duffy says have gone beyond his "wildest expectations."

“I remember thinking, ‘If it sells more than 1,000 copies in its entire lifetime, that I’d be ecstatic.’ So for it to sell more than 7,500 copies in its first six months was incredible.

"There was a point when, around the time the frontline staff at Morecambe
Bay got wind of it, the book got as high as number 58 in the Amazon best-selling titles rankings. That was quite a surreal moment."

He still believes, however, that Whistle in the Wind’s material has some distance left to run.

“If it wasn’t for the fact that I did manage to get the book out, so much of this would’ve stayed hidden. At the heart of it there are two deaths that I personally feel may tip over into medical manslaughter. Obviously you’d need a criminal court to decide on that.

“But certainly one case covered in the book compares almost identically to a similar case where the consultant ended up with a custodial sentence.”

UHMBT’s chief executive, Aaron Cummins, has said: “The trust has asked NHS England to carry out an external independent investigation into concerns surrounding the urology service.

“I have met with Peter and have assured him of our intention to continue to be open and transparent and we hope Mr Duffy’s concerns will be addressed within the work of the investigation.”

Despite the ‘lip service’ Mr Duffy says is paid to protecting NHS whistleblowers the 58-year-old surgeon still believes he has not yet seen a meaningful change in the way they are treated.

If this continues to be the case, he hints another book could soon be in the works.

He said: “I think it’s shameful that the NHS just fought me all the way through this, trying to silence me and gag me and threaten me.

“Even in the course of the employment tribunal the true facts didn’t come out.

“Under the current system, the tribunal is not so much interested in the whistleblowing - it’s interested in destroying the character of the whistleblower.

“So, had it not been for the book and for Amy Fenton’s work, obviously, all of this would’ve been buried and concealed forever.

“At least there has been a belated realisation that these are serious issues.

“And I think it is good the NHS hasn’t managed to cover this one up. It’s out there now.”