Dr Ranson Tribunal: I Was Unfairly Blamed for Vaccine Delays

The island’s former Medical Director has told a tribunal that she was excluded from much of the work going into the island’s vaccine rollout. 

Dr Rosalind Ranson is appearing at an employment tribunal saying she was unfairly dismissed from her job and was punished for making protected disclosures, i.e. whistle blowing. 

During her third day of giving evidence, Dr Ranson said she was never invited to join the group set up to prepare for the Covid vaccine rollout on the island and her input was only sought when it became clear that her signature was required on a key document that would allow the rollout to begin. 

Dr Ranson said that the former CEO of DHSC Kathryn Magson had excluded her from the group and that when advice was needed, she directed through the Senior Clinicians Group, which was chaired by Dr Ranson, as opposed to asking her to contribute herself. 

She told the tribunal that she was only invited to the group when it became clear that she would be needed to sign a Patient Group Direction (PGD). In its simplest terms, this is a document that is needed to allow for the Covid vaccines to be used. On the island, it was required that this was signed by Dr Ranson as Medical Director, the chief nurse and chief pharmacist. 

December 18

A lot of today’s evidence focussed on events on, or around December 18 2020. Dr Ranson said it was at this time it became clear she would have to sign the document before the vaccines could be used. However, due to issues with the document, she, along with the chief nurse and pharmacist, had reached a decision that they were unable to do so. 

Dr Ranson said that despite her making it clear why she couldn’t do this, she was ‘ordered’ to do it by Ms Magson.

On that day, Dr Ranson said Ms Magson had accused her of being ‘unprofessional’ for saying she could not attend a meeting in full as she was due to go on leave. When asked by DHSC advocate James Boyd whether she thought that her mentioning her going on leave could have upset many people in the meeting and not just Ms Magson, Dr Ranson said she had made the point separately to Ms Magson and that the meeting in question was ‘not the meeting to discuss’ the issues with the PGD. 

On Sunday December 20, 2020, Ms Magson did email Dr Ranson where she apologised for pulling her up on her comments about being on leave, Dr Ranson told the tribunal that while Ms Magson had said it, it ‘didn’t reflect her behaviour’ towards her either at the meeting or during this time. 

Mr Boyd pointed out that Ms Magson had also said she suspected that the concerns raised by Dr Ranson about the PGD were ‘spot on’. Dr Ranson said: ‘On Friday [December 18] she had been demanding I sign it despite my explanation… I think she was being completely unreasonable.’ She added that the issues with the PGD were ‘quite complex’.

The Minister

Despite Dr Ranson saying that Ms Magson was aware that neither of three people required to sign the document were prepared to do so on December 18, Ms Magson had emailed DHSC Minister David Ashford to say that the PGD was the ‘key document’ that the rollout, which the gov had wanted to begin on December 21, relied upon.

Dr Ranson said that despite this, there were other issues that needed to be addressed and that the December 21 date wasn’t going to happen anyway. She accused Ms Magson of ‘misleading’ Mr Ashford with what she told him and told the tribunal that ‘she [Ms Magson] knew what was needed’. Dr Ranson told the tribunal that even if the PGD had been signed on Friday, ‘you could not safely give that vaccine’ because other issues had not yet been resolved. 

In his response to Ms Magson, Mr Ashford replied that the new date of January 4 ‘now needs to be set in stone regardless of anything’. He said there was a growing concern about ‘losing public confidence in the programme’ and that the gov needed to get a press release out that weekend as ‘the media is starting to get suspicious’ about why the Isle of Man was behind other areas in rolling out the vaccine (we have explored this issue a bit further below). Ms Magson later told Mr Ashford and Chief Secretary Will Greenhow that there ‘may be a position where the MD will not sign’. 

Mr Boyd said that this would’ve been a ‘significant problem’ for the island’s vaccine rollout to which Dr Ranson said it was a case of Ms Magson ‘placing all the blame for this at my door’.  

History Time

If we return back to this moment in time briefly, on December 20 2020, Mr Ashford said: ‘We had thought it might be possible to start vaccinating from Monday, but with a small number of critical issues outstanding, the practical option is to start on the next available date, 4 January when these issues will have been resolved. It is not sensible to start with so little margin in the immediate run-up to Christmas Day, and we will not rush things during an already very busy period for our health services.

‘I must reassure everyone the final details are focused on the roll-out clinical protocols amended from the UK to suit the Isle of Man, and not the vaccine itself. Patient safety is about much more than the treatment or drug received – it spans the whole process of providing health services, involving practitioners and professionals at many levels.’

Nothing that Dr Ranson said in the hearing differs majorly from what Mr Ashford said. However, what this does raise is that this was not a ‘small number of critical issues’, but that, according to Dr Ranson, what was occurring is that the island’s top doctor, having been excluded from the vaccine planning until days before the intended launch date, had refused, alongside other very senior clinical staff, to sign documents necessary for the rollout as they weren’t satisfied they were in order. 

According to the evidence of Dr Ranson, there was pressure put on her by non-medically trained senior members of the department to sign the documents anyway while the minister was describing the media, to his department CEO, as being ‘suspicious’ for asking the perfectly reasonable question of why the Isle of Man was behind in launching our vaccine rollout. 

Protected Disclosures

Returning to the matter at hand, Mr Boyd asked Dr Ranson what this, alongside her claim that she was ‘humiliated’ at that December 18 meeting, Ms Magson was also blaming her for a delay to the island’s vaccine programme. When asked what this has to do with the protected disclosures made by Dr Ranson, she said it was part of her overall treatment at the hands of Ms Magson which came as a response to her disclosures. 

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