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British Sikh MP calls for Birmingham hospital trust probe

British Sikh MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, Preet Kaur Gill, has written to the UK government calling for an independent inquiry into a National Health Service (NHS) hospital trust in the city following the suicide of an Indian-origin junior doctor and several reports of bullying she has received from staff.

Gill published her letter to UK Health Secretary Steve Barclay on Twitter, which calls for an inquiry into the culture at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB). She references the suicide of 35-year-old Dr Vaishnavi Kumar, who worked at Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital and whose inquest last month heard how she felt “belittled” at work and would come home and cry.

The Opposition Labour Party MP and shadow secretary of state for international development said many of the staff who have been in contact with her have described a “put up or shut up” culture at the NHS hospitals trust. An investigation by BBC’s ‘Newsnight’ programme earlier this month found that doctors at the Trust were “punished” for raising safety concerns. The Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board (ICB) has since announced a three-part review into the culture at UHB, with the first report expected next month. However, Gill is calling for matters to go further with an independent inquiry in order to give confidence to whistle-blowers who would want to feel safe to come forward with their evidence.

The UHB, one of the UK’s big NHS trusts, said: “We welcome the support that is being put in place and we look forward to working positively and constructively with our NHS colleagues.

“This will build upon the work already under way across UHB to understand the issues that have been highlighted. It is very clear that there is a strength of feeling in a number of areas and we are committed to addressing these. Our focus now is to continue to provide high standards of care, while supporting all colleagues, as we head into a particularly challenging winter period.”

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