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Complaints against trust chair upheld by leaked report

Published on: 12 Jan 2023

A trust chair failed to follow proper processes when suspending a colleague and did not always act with “honesty, truthfulness and clarity”, an investigation found.

HSJ has obtained an internal report into the conduct of Danielle Oum, which was submitted in September last year, shortly before she stood down as chair of Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust.

In October the trust said she was leaving to “concentrate on her work-life balance and her other roles”. Ms Oum is still chair of Coventry and Warwickshire Integrated Care System.

The independent investigation was commissioned by the trust after complaints were made against Ms Oum by an individual at the trust.

It is not known how Ms Oum has responded to the complaints that were made against her, but several complaints were upheld, including:

  • The report said Ms Oum “put undue pressure” on the complainant to secure the resignation of another colleague.
  • She was also found to have suggested the complainant resign from their role, which she did not have the authority to do.
  • She later suspended the complainant without following the proper disciplinary process, which meant the suspension was “wholly unfair”, investigators found.
  • The report also said there was evidence Ms Oum “did not always act with honesty, truthfulness and clarity”, adding “there is overwhelming evidence to suggest the chair did not consult with other parties appropriately”.

The context around the issues between the chair and the complainant are unclear from the reports. HSJ has approached Ms Oum for comment.

When approached, the complainant did not wish to comment, but requested that HSJ make clear they were not the source of the article. The report was not sourced from the complainant.

A separate report into the trust’s handling of the incident found some support was offered to the complainant, but not enough as the suspension was not reviewed regularly and nobody senior in the trust was managing the investigation.

HSJ understands NHS England has offered the trust board development sessions following the allegations.

A BSMHFT spokesperson said: “The trust has accepted the findings of the independent investigation, learned from them, and taken action to address them.

“Our board and governors have endorsed prescribed processes for dealing with complaints… We have also made public and personal apologies to the individuals concerned. No disciplinary action was taken.”

Coventry and Warwickshire ICS did not respond.