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Friday 28 February 2014
Updated 11 March 2014

Langley Woman wins Hospital Election

Failing and poor standards Wexham Park Hospital gets new public governor

Report and photographs: Paul Janik

Sharon O'Reilly won the February 2014 Wexham Park Hospital election to become a governor representing the public in Slough.

A happy Mrs O'Reilly, whose normal job is a locksmith, told the Slough Times:

I would like to thank everyone who voted for me to become a hospital governor at Wexham Park Hospital.

I intend to be an active governor and to help everyone to bring the hospital up to the best standards for the 21st Century. There are a lot of good dedicated staff who are doing their best for patients in often difficult circumstances. Further improvements need to be made to ensure patients receive the very best service from their NHS.

Responding to a Slough Times question about the general lack of public awareness of the vacancy for a voluntary hospital governor, Mrs O'Reilly thought the hospital was failing to provide enough publicity to encourage greater community awareness about hospital trust membership and the governors. Mrs O'Reilly said:

I hope my fellow governors will publicise their meetings much more so that local people can attend and put questions to the governors who are their public representatives at the hospital. We exist to serve the public so we must be fully and openly accountable to the public.

I am here to help says new hospital governor Sharon O'Reilly

The election results

The election results were known on Thursday 27 February 2014.

The hospital's chief executive Philippa Slinger and chief 'Spin Doctor' Thomas Lafferty refused to supply those details to the Slough Times.

On Monday, 10 March 2014, after much effort, the Slough Times obtained the election results from a non-hospital source.

February 2014 Governor Election Results

121
: Sharon O'Reilly


97
: Anthony Martin


52
: Amrik Banse


14
: Jameel Siddiq


11
: Jagjiwan Gopal


8
: Gian Sihara


4
: John Nash



The Slough Times believes the winner Mrs O'Reilly is a good choice because she is committed to improving standards at the hospital.

The election was for one governor vacancy for the Slough area. Candidates' election addresses and photographs are available here

Hospital concealing wide-spread public dissatisfaction

The Slough Times was curious why chief executive Philippa Slinger and her 'henchman' Thomas Lafferty were so desperate to conceal the governors voting results.

  • Wexham Park's management never publish the voting figures despite governor elections being public elections.
  • The governors are supposed to independently scrutinise various aspects of the hospital's conduct, performance and service to the public.

  • The governors' chairman is not elected by the public. The chairman is imposed, undemocratically, on a team of democratically elected hospital governors, local authority councillors representing their individual councils and a few others representing vested interests.
  • Consequently the chairman has a major conflict of interest. The governors' chairman is also the chairman of the hospital's management board - the same board of hospital directors responsible for poor patient care, filthy unhygienic conditions and all the other hash criticisms of Care Quality Commission investigations. The same board of directors was criticised by the NHS Foundation Trusts watchdog called Monitor.
  • The chairman of the independent hospital governors' does not care whether the voting results are published. If he cared, he would have ensured the results were put on the hospital's web site for the public to see.

The voting figures are shocking. Only 1 out of 8 hospital trust members in the Slough area bothered to vote.

2,447
: votes issued


307
: votes returned


12.5%
: votes returned


2,140
: hospital trust members did not vote


When voters do not vote, it is because they do not care. They are not interested in their local hospital.

On 11 March 2014 the Slough Times asked Philippa Slinger and Thomas Lafferty:-

Please do either of you have a public comment about the pitifully poor voting results in the February 2014 governor election ? As you probably know, 87.5% of the Slough area voters were so disappointed with the management and/or the performance of their local NHS hospital trust, they decided to boycott the election as a form of protest.

What are the Trust's management's plans to re-engage with the 2,140 dissatisfied trust members in the Slough area ?

What does the Trust's management wish to say to those disaffected Trust members and to the public generally ?

SOLA 011381p14

Hospital bosses censor election results


In an amazingly display of arrogance and obstruction the hospital's chief 'Spin Doctor' Thomas Lafferty ordered hospital staff not to disclose the governors election results to the Slough Times.

The results were not shown on the hospital's web site.

The Slough Times asked Wexham Park Hospital's governors office for the results. The hospital totally ignored our polite request. Wexham Park's censorship prevented us publishing, on Friday 28 February 2014, a news story about the governor's election.

Read about Tom Lafferty's astonishingly weird instruction to hospital staff not to tell motorcycle patients the locations of motorcycle parking facilities at Wexham Park Hospital.

We asked hospital chief executive Philippa Slinger for the election results.

Mrs Slinger, paid £192,000 annually with a pension worth £1.4 million at March 2013, also refused to provide the election results.

Mrs Slinger presided over a failing hospital with failing management. She departs Wexham Park this month for a private sector job.

Election organisers asked for the results


With Slinger and Lafferty refusing to reveal the election results, the Slough Times tracked-down the election organisers.

The Heatherwood & Wexham Park NHS Foundation Trust governor election process was sub-contracted to Electoral Reform Services (ERS) in London. A hospital leaflet said a named ERS manager was the election's Returning Officer.

The Slough Times asked ERS for the election results.

Our first two requests, made on different days, were rejected. ERS told us to get the results from the hospital. Despite the Slough Times telling the ERS that Wexham Park Hospital was refusing to reveal the results of a public election for a public post, ERS remained intransigent.

An exasperated Slough Times deputy editor wrote to ERS director Jenny Bradley:

Whilst I understand the logic of ERS not disclosing results prematurely, thus giving their customer the exclusivity of announcing the results, I am puzzled why the paid organiser of alleged 'free and fair' elections is acting like those who rig elections by refusing to disclose the election results.

Ultimately it is the public's money commercially benefiting ERS for its WPH election organisation. There can not be a justifiable reason for accepting public money for running an election then denying the public, the ultimate payers of that money, of the results of that election citing ''commercial confidentiality''.

Mrs Bradley did not bother to reply. A junior ERS manager sent the Slough Times the election results.

Wexham Park Hospital's record.

Under a variety of expensive chief executives, Slough's Acute NHS hospital has done strange things including:-

  • Hiring-out a hospital NHS ward to outsiders for the making of a pornographic film or films. At the time a hospital spokesman said the ward had not been in use.
  • Sending a circular to all clinical staff begging them to go on holiday, not to perform operations, attend study courses for 3 or even 6 months duration.
  • Closing down hospital wards.

These are a few of the reasons prompting the Slough Times into advocating greater community interest in the area's only major NHS hospital.

Regrettably some at WPH fear publicity and public scrutiny.

Thomas Lafferty's 'Spin Doctor' activities have included covering-up a catalogue of gravely serious failings by the hospital's senior management which caused the death of in-patient Philmore Mills.

56 year old Philmore Mills was fatally mistreated in Ward 9 at circa 02:20 hours on 27 December 2011.

Unable to find a hospital doctor to respond to Mr Mills' medical condition, Wexham Park Hospital had asked Thames Valley Police to enter ward 9, arrest and handcuff the hospital's seriously ill patient experiencing breathing difficulties. Philmore Mills was killed in the middle of the night in Wexham Park's ward 9. Mr Mills was not wanted by the police. He was a sick patient receiving treatment in hospital. He had just been moved from Intensive Care. Both the police and the hospital are likely to be criticised at the forthcoming Inquest.

Mr Lafferty, who describes himself as a non-practising barrister, has the official title of the hospital's Director of Corporate Affairs. He, as Wexham Park Hospital's official Company Secretary, controls the hospital trust's activities, Freedom of Information requests, the Press Office, 'discretely' overseas the activities of the hospital's governors and acts as the hospital's chief 'Spin Doctor'. Mr Lafferty's influence is considered considerable particularly for someone who is neither the chairman nor the chief executive.

Mr Lafferty's salary is said to exceed £100,000 annually excluding pension payments and possible hospital perks. A Slough Observer news story reveals that while hospital employees had their pay frozen and others made redundant because of the financial crisis, Mr Lafferty was given a £10,000 pay rise.