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Photographer: Photo supplied by Gary Walker

Gary Walker

Blew the whistle over pressures to hit NHS targets at expense of patient safety. Walker is one of the only whistleblowers to speak publicly after signing a gagging agreement

In 2010, former Chief Executive of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, Gary Walker, was concerned that compliance with non-urgent care targets was putting emergency patients at risk. When he voiced his concerns East Midlands Strategic Health Authority told him to meet the 18-week non-emergency target ‘whatever the demand’ or resign. Walker refused and was subsequently sacked for gross misconduct over alleged swearing at a meeting. He took a claim of unfair dismissal and accepted a settlement package – which contained a gagging clause. He said, ”If you work in the NHS and you cross the people in power, there will be consequences for you. I was in danger of losing my house. So, I spent 20 years in the health service and I’m blacklisted from it. I can’t work in the health service again.” Mr Walker decided to speak to the media about his concerns and how he was treated. Prior to speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, Walker faced threats from the Trust saying he might be forced to repay the settlement for breaking the gag. Despite proceeding with the broadcast, no further action was taken by the Trust. In 2013, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust was one of 14 hospitals criticised by NHS England for ‘excess’ mortality rates. Mr Walker went on to become a trustee for whistleblowing charity, Protect.