Monday saw the first full day of the tribunal of Dr Rosalind Ranson v DHSC and what a day it was.
Dr Ranson is accusing that the DHSC unfairly dismissed her and that her transition over to Manx Care was blocked because she’s a whistleblower.
The former Medical Director’s advocates say that Dr Ranson was dismissed from her role as MD in February 2021 after her responsibilities were shifted over into Manx Care and she wasn’t.
However, the department claims that Dr Ranson’s role was always temporary and she was never dismissed.
At the start of the day, DHSC advocate James Boyd says that if she was dismissed, it was a result of Dr Ranson’s conduct or capability.
Dr Ranson’s representative Simon Cheetham QC said if this was the case, there would be paperwork outlining the management steps taken against Dr Ranson for her conduct. However, Mr Boyd admitted that the tribunal ‘won’t find the formal process’. He added: ‘There wasn’t a formal management process in term of what might be documented in the traditional sense.’
This led to tribunal member Mrs Main-Thompson to say that this is something the tribunal will need to establish.
During her evidence session, Dr Ranson spoke to say that she was given an unrealistic workload, on top of her work during the pandemic, due to her whistleblowing.
She said that former DHSC CEO Kathryn Magson had ordered her to do the extra work without providing the staffing to do so. She also alleged that Ms Magson had blocked her appearances at Covid briefings and barred her from speaking to MHKs who sought further information on the situation on the island.
However, when Mr Boyd pushed the point further that Dr Ranson’s allegations against Ms Magson were ‘career ending’ and asked her whether she wanted to ‘maintain’ that Ms Magson’s actions were because of whistleblowing, Dr Ranson replied: ‘No I don’t maintain that.’
Pre-Recorded No Show
During the rest of her evidence on Monday, Dr Ranson said that despite being asked to appear at briefings by the gov’s Comms teams, this was shut down, equally a similar request from ministers and the Comms team for her to pre-record a section where she would outline the impact of lockdown on the spread of Covid was recorded and then dropped without her being told why. She said that she suspects this was because of Ms Magson after a member of the Comms team inferred this was the case.
Advice to Lockdown
One of the more shocking allegations made by Dr Ranson, which was one that she previously told the Public Accounts Committee in Tynwald, was that herself and senior doctors had sent information to the gov telling them to shut the island’s borders and lockdown nine days before they did.
Dr Ranson said that she wrote to Ms Magson early on the morning of March 25 to voice her concern that Chief Minister Howard Quayle hadn’t received that advice but she received no reply to that email.
Later that day, Dr Ranson did receive a call from Ms Magson relating to some slides she wanted to present to CoMin, however as this wasn’t in a format that could be sent to Ms Magson, Dr Ranson and her colleague went to gov offices. While there, she says, she was asked by Director of External Relations Peter Boxer and former head of Comms Liz Aelberry to ‘do my stuff’ for when lockdown was announced.
However, it was at this time that Dr Ranson was then pulled from the briefing at very short notice and it was the next day that the pre-recorded segment, where she was due to explain the impact of lockdown and the curve of Covid, was also pulled from the briefing plans.
After this, Dr Ranson said Ms Magson called her in the evening to ask why she had questioned whether the advice had reached Mr Quayle. Dr Ranson said: ‘She [Ms Magson] wanted to talk to me about what I had done by questioning her. I felt from her behaviour towards me that probably she had got me removed from that press conference.
‘And then she demanded that I must not go to work the next day. She said I must not go in.’
When asked by Mr Boyd whether the ‘long and the short of it’ is that Ms Magson had arranged for the video to be pulled because Dr Ranson had questioned her, Dr Ranson simply said ‘yes’.
During Monday afternoon, Mr Boyd spent a significant amount of time questioning Dr Ranson on the issue of modelling.
In her statement, Dr Ranson had said that Ms Magson had ‘repeatedly demanded’ that she comment on a modelling document. Dr Ranson said that the document was produced by Government Tech Services (GTS) and that there was ‘a lot wrong with it’. She said: ‘I could only comment on it, I wasn’t allowed to make any changes to it.’
Having commented on it, she said the same inaccuracies were still in the document the next time she saw it. Shortly after, she said modelling was taken away from her department and placed in the hands of GTS.
During her evidence sessions, Dr Ranson also explained that modelling had been used to help determine whether Noble’s would be big enough to cope with a massive outbreak of Covid. She said with the island unable to send people to the UK for treatment if the hospital ran out of beds, a plan was considered to use part of the NSC, before this was later discounted.
One of the most concerning elements of her later evidence was Dr Ranson alleging that in a draft paper ‘they removed people that were considered frail’. She explained: ‘They removed them as people and said that these people almost will not be counted as people who become ill and therefore the numbers that they were presenting were significantly an underestimate of the number of people that would become unwell if they got Covid.’
Dr Ranson said it was mistakes like this she was aiming to correct as it didn’t reflect the work she and her team had done, she said: ‘It didn’t describe our decision, it didn’t describe our thinking and it didn’t describe what had taken place.’
The tribunal continues today and is due to run until February 11.