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Whittington doctor hits out at hospital over survey secrecy

Dr Peter Mills, who has worked at the Whittington Hospital since 1999 Dr Peter Mills, who has worked at the Whittington Hospital since 1999

Thursday, December 26, 2013
4:00 PM

The Whittington Hospital has been slammed by one of its own doctors after it refused to reveal how much it paid a private company to complete a survey.

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The hospital in Magdala Avenue, Archway, out-sourced the survey on staff satisfaction to research specialists ORC International .

But it would not divulge the cost when responding to a Freedom of Information ­request from a doctor who works at the NHS Trust.

Dr Peter Mills, an associate specialist in respiratory medicine, was told in the hospital’s reply that due to “commercial interests” it was “not able to disclose the information concerning contract ­details”.

It also cited section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which states that information is exempt if it constitutes a trade secret or could prejudice commercial interests. Dr Mills, who has worked at the hospital since 1999, was not satisfied.

He said: “I have no problem with them using an outside company, but if you spend public money on something you should be accountable for it.

Tight

“There are some things that private companies are better at doing than the NHS and that’s fine, but this ­secrecy is wrong.

“Money is very tight in the NHS at the moment so you have to have transparency and you have to be able to ­explain where the money was spent and why.”

The survey was sent out to 4,000 permanent staff at the ­beginning of autumn and the results are expected to be ­released in January or February.

Staff members were given a link to follow to an ORC website to fill in the questionnaire that Dr Mills said was “comprehensive” and asked “pointed questions”.

A Whittington Hospital spokesman said: “We are conducting a trust-wide survey to improve our understanding of what our staff think about working at Whittington Health.

“We will act on the results of the survey to improve working conditions for staff.

“Due to commercial interests, we are not able to disclose information concerning contract details, see the Freedom of Information Act 2000, section 43.”

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