The chief minister of the Isle of Man has expressed his “deep discomfort” after a tribunal found that the island’s medical director had been forced out of her job and suffered “disgraceful” bullying for whistleblowing over the Manx approach to Covid-19.
Alfred Cannan, the chief minister since October last year, accettato that the conclusions of Dr Rosalind Ranson’s employment tribunal had “understandably damaged confidence in government.”
Ranson had raised concerns about the Isle of Man’s approach to Covid in the early days of pandemic. She had argued for an early lockdown, along with the UK, to avoid a situation “where we are choosing who should be ventilated” in the island’s only hospital with intensive care beds, the Manx employment and equality tribunal heard.
But her boss – Kathryn Magson, then interim chief executive of the Department of Health and Social Care – set out to “silence” her by spreading false rumours she was “burnt-out” in order to stop her appearing at a televised press conference, the tribunal found. She also falsely accused Ranson of “seeking the limelight” and being “hungry for power”, the panel concluded.
After taking advice from the island’s doctors and consultants, Ranson prepared evidence to be given to ministers, which warned that delaying lockdown could lead to a “major clinical emergency that could overwhelm our health and social care services”.
But Magson had “suppressed or had failed to pass on” this “material” evidence, the tribunal found.
Ranson’s advice came at a time when the island had no Covid-19 cases. It was put into effect soon afterwards but by then the first Covid case had been identified on the island and several deaths, including in a care home, followed.
Despite its slow response, the Manx government was later criticised for its “authoritarian” approach after residents who breached lockdown rules were locked up in allegedly “inhuman” conditions without showers or exercise.
Ranson acted as a whistleblower on a number of occasions to raise her legitimate concerns, the tribunal found, saying her interventions were “an irritation growing into a festering sore for Miss Magson”.
By January 2021 she had been sidelined to such an extent that her PA and office had been taken away from her, and she had been re-housed in a junior manager’s office with a broken chair, no computer screen and no telephone. This was a “pattern of disgraceful behaviour”, the tribunal found.
Ranson took up the £200,000-a-year job in January 2020 with the understanding that she would transfer to become medical director of Manx Care, the new legal entity that took over the island’s health service from April 2021.
But she was not transferred after Magson gave her a poor reference and was instead retained as medical director of the island’s health department, in what the tribunal described as a “shell job”. This amounted to unfair dismissal, the panel concluded.
The tribunal also criticised various witnesses and official bodies for failing to disclose 244 documents, some of which assisted Ranson’s case, until the tribunal was part-way through.
Martedì, Cannan gave a statement to the House of Keys, the Manx parliament, to announce “fundamental and wide-ranging reform across the public sector” in response to the case.
Egli ha detto: “This tribunal has raised a number of substantive questions regarding government performance and culture and has understandably damaged confidence in government. I stand today to acknowledge the deep discomfort that we feel with the evidence and findings of this tribunal.”
There have been 32,600 infections and 104 coronavirus-related deaths in the Isle of Man since the pandemic began.